San Francisco cleaned up its act and played host to a Who’s Who of global import this past week as political, business and cultural leaders gathered from around the world — U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping leading the pack — for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
There were plenty of other stars circling in their orbit: Apple’s Tim Cook, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr and singer Gwen Stefani, to name a few.
President Joe Biden with Gwen Stefani during the welcome reception for leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
The week’s events in and around the Moscone Center featured speeches, announcements, protests, world leader one-on-ones, political fundraisers and parties for what one homeless fellow crouched at a bus stop across the street from the convention center called the “fancy people.”
So what are the key takeaways from this coming together of the powerful and politically connected?
A reset with China
The event provided an opportunity for APEC attendees Biden and Xi to hold only their second face-to-face meeting as presidents.
Their last in-person meeting was a year ago, but the two superpowers’ relations have since frosted over, particularly after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to longtime U.S. ally Taiwan in August 2022. That prompted China to cease military communications with the U.S. and launch provocative military exercises near Taiwan. Chinese leaders also tabled other important discussions surrounding climate cooperation.
Despite the tranquil setting at Filoli Gardens in Woodside, Wednesday’s meeting, as Biden colorfully put it the next day, wasn’t “all kumbaya.” At a news conference later that day, Biden declined to retract his description of Xi earlier this year as a “dictator,” and he acknowledged to executives that “we have real differences with Beijing when it comes to maintaining a fair and level economic playing field and protecting your intellectual property.”
Labels aside, the meeting did yield a positive result: a resumption of military communication channels between the U.S. and China to reduce the risk of what Biden called “accidental miscalculation.”
China also committed to work with the U.S. on the climate, artificial intelligence and efforts to counter the illicit narcotics trade of fentanyl. And the two leaders committed to renewing a Science and Technology Cooperation agreement that Bay Area leaders consider important.
President Joe Biden and China’s President President Xi Jinping walk in the gardens at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, Calif., Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
The Bay Area is Back
San Francisco and the broader region have taken a beating lately from COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns and the lingering hit to the economy, creating ghost towns of empty office buildings and worsening already worrisome trends of homelessness, crime, job losses, unaffordable housing and the ensuing flight of residents and businesses.
“A major economic benefit (of the economic forum) will be the change of perception about this place and …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment