President Biden will work to strengthen U.S. ties with Asian nations on Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, one day after he held an hourslong meeting with President Xi Jinping of China at a moment of deep tension between the two countries.
When he speaks to executives on Thursday morning and during later planning meetings, he will announce that American businesses have invested $40 billion into APEC economies this year, and he will encourage other leaders to enact labor protections for workers, according to Mike Pyle, the deputy national security adviser for international economics.
“The president has spent nearly three years now strengthening our economic foundations at home and building our alliances and partnerships across the Indo Pacific,” Mr. Pyle told reporters on Thursday morning. “President Biden will make it absolutely clear that the United States will continue to engage both diplomatically and economically in this critical region made clear while this matters for the American people.”
The president will also participate in a planning lunch with leaders from other APEC economies, and the topics will include job creation, supply chain stability and clean energy. One portion of the planned agenda will be missing: Earlier this week, the Biden administration pulled back on plans to announce the conclusion of substantial portions of a new trade pact after several top Democratic lawmakers threatened to oppose the deal.
“In the weeks and months ahead, we expect to continue putting shoulders against that effort,” Mr. Pyle said.
Mr. Biden joins the summit, a group of 21 economies that surround the Pacific Ocean, a day after a lengthy meeting with Mr. Xi that saw the two leaders agree to restart military-to-military communications and work to regulate the production of compounds used to make fentanyl, a driver of the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Mr. Biden and his advisers say that time will tell if those agreements endure, and the first test came before Mr. Biden left the site of the summit. In a news conference with reporters, the president reaffirmed his belief that Mr. Xi is a dictator, which infuriated the Chinese over the summer when he first used the term.
“Well, look, he is,” Mr. Biden said. “I mean, he’s a dictator in the sense that he — he is a guy who runs a country that — it’s a communist country that is based on a form of government totally different than ours.”
Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, called Mr. Biden’s comment “extremely wrong.” Still, at a dinner with American billionaires and executives held later Wednesday, Mr. Xi seemed intent on presenting his country as a willing “partner and friend” to the United States.
“The No. 1 question for us is: Are we adversaries or partners?” Mr. Xi asked. “China is ready to be a partner and friend of the United States.”