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November 17, 2023
Focus This Week
A community space to discuss the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

Dear Focus Reader,

Following months of diplomatic efforts aimed at setting the stage for a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, the two leaders finally convened at the APEC Summit south of San Francisco this week, their first in-person meeting since November of last year.

The long-anticipated summit aimed to ease tensions and establish vital communication channels between China and the U.S., with both leaders agreeing to "pick up the phone" during periods of disagreements.

In their discussions, Xi emphasized China's interest in de-escalating tensions, but noted his objections to U.S. actions he sees as aimed at stifling China's development, such as export controls on semiconductors and other strategically sensitive technologies.

While acknowledging the improvement in relations, Biden also stressed a "trust but verify" approach, echoing the need for cautious optimism. He said that the U.S. remains committed to high trade standards and partnerships in the Pacific, while recognizing ongoing differences with China, offering alternative options for businesses in the region.

The heads of state also made agreements on curbing fentanyl production and restoring military-to-military communication, which were celebrated as important steps forward. Scheduled passenger flights between China and the U.S. will also increase starting from early 2024, and China is ready to invite some 50,000 students over the next five years.

However, underlying challenges persist, with Biden referring to Xi as a "dictator" in a press conference following the meeting, leading to frustration from Beijing, despite constructive talks.

For now, stay up to date on the latest developments in the China-U.S. relationship by catching up on our latest Focus content, including content on the Xi-Biden summit, the future of the China-U.S. relationship, and what the heads-of-state must do to work together.

- Team Focus

Focus Insights
Quote of the Week
"The U.S.-China relationship is more stable, and there is certainly better communication between our governments. That wasn't even the case just six months ago…It does not mean we don't have major differences, because we still do across the board. But it does mean that we're better connected and better able to manage these differences between Washington and Beijing responsibly. In my world of diplomacy, that's progress."
Nicholas Burns
Ambassador of the United States of America to the People's Republic of China, speaking in his opening address to CUSEF's annual Hong Kong Forum on U.S.-China Relations that took place on November 9-10 in Hong Kong

Read More

Notable Number

The number of American students studying in China in 2022-23, plummeting from 11,639 prior to the pandemic.

Read more in "Solution Starts With People," by Jia Qingguo, Director and Professor, Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding, Peking University.

Discover More
A look into cultural stories from our affiliate platform, The China Current.

Hidden Gems | China's Villages

Watch Video
China has many hidden gems, like villages tucked away in the rural mountains and remote communities not often given the spotlight but bursting with culture. Recently, travelers and explorers have begun to uncover some of China's small towns —helping bring their stories to light and sharing them with the world.
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Question of the Week:

In our Focus Insights section, we shared an article by David Shambaugh on the outcomes from the recent Xi-Biden Summit.

We want to hear from you:

Do you think the recent summit changed the current state of the relationship between the United States and China? What specific outcomes or actions would you like to see from the U.S.-China relationship in the coming months following this meeting?

Submit your thoughts to for a chance to be featured in next week's Focus This Week.

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About Focus This Week

Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China and the U.S. every week. It is a community space to exchange thoughts and ideas about the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

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