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Biden and Xi discuss AI, fentanyl, pandas amid heightened tensions

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President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping convened in San Francisco on Nov. 15 to discuss — among other things — artificial intelligence. Contrary to a South China Morning Post report suggesting a potential pledge to ban AI in nuclear weapon control and deployment, the leaders opted to continue dialogue on the risks of advanced AI systems and enhancing safety.

“The United States will continue to compete vigorously with the PRC, but will manage that competition responsibly so it doesn’t veer into conflict or accidental conflict,” Biden said.

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Last month, the Biden administration heightened restrictions on U.S. companies selling sophisticated semiconductor chips to China, citing national security concerns. The tightened regulations affect not only military applications, but also commercial usage, impacting Chinese companies that are engaged in artificial intelligence projects.

Although diplomatic channels have remained open, military communications were halted following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August.

“We’re resuming military-to-military contact, direct contacts,” Biden said in a press conference. “As a lot of you know who follow this, that’s been cut off and it’s been very worrisome. That’s how accidents happen, misunderstandings. So we’re back to direct, open, clear, direct communications.”

“China never bets against the U.S., never interferes in its internal affairs,” Xi said. “China has no intention to challenge or to replace the U.S. Instead, we are glad to see a confident, open, and prosperous U.S. Likewise, the U.S. should not bet against China. The U.S. should not interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

During the meeting, leaders reached an agreement to address the production and trafficking of drugs like fentanyl. Additionally, Xi indicated he intends to send new pandas to the United States following the return of three pandas to China earlier this month.

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[SHANNON LONGWORTH]

AMID AN AI RACE, PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING MET YESTERDAY IN SAN FRANCISCO TO DISCUSS–AMONG OTHER THINGS–ADVANCEMENTS IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.

DESPITE THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST’S REPORT THAT THE TWO LEADERS MIGHT PLEDGE TO BAN AI USE IN THE NUCLEAR WEAPON CONTROL AND DEPLOYMENT, THAT DID NOT COME TO FRUITION. INSTEAD, XI AND BIDEN AGREED TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE RISKS OF ADVANCED AI SYSTEMS AND IMPROVING THE SAFETY.

[JOE BIDEN]

“THE UNITED STATES WILL CONTINUE TO COMPETE VIGOROUSLY WITH THE PRC, BUT WILL MANAGE THAT COMPETITION RESPONSIBLY SO IT DOESN’T VEER INTO CONFLICT OR ACCIDENTAL CONFLICT.”

[LONGWORTH]

BOTH MILITARIES HAVE INCREASINGLY EMPLOYED AI, BUT THESE POTENTIAL USES POSE A RISK OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

LAST MONTH THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TIGHTENED RESTRICTIONS ON US COMPANIES’ SALES OF SOPHISTICATED SEMICONDUCTOR CHIPS TO CHINA. OFFICIALS WARNED THAT THIS KIND OF TECHNOLOGY COULD BE USED TO THREATEN NATIONAL SECURITY.

BUT IT ALSO HAS COMMERCIAL USES AND COULD AFFECT CHINESE COMPANIES LOOKING TO USE IT TO BUILD ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROJECTS.

THE MEETING WAS PART OF APEC–THE ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION SUMMIT. AND IT COMES AS TENSIONS HAVE BEEN RISING BETWEEN THE U.S. AND CHINA.

WHILE DIPLOMATIC COMMUNICATION HAS CONTINUED, MILITARY COMMUNICATIONS WERE SUSPENDED AFTER FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI VISITED TAIWAN LAST AUGUST.

HOWEVER, AS OF YESTERDAY’S MEETING, PRESIDENT BIDEN EMERGED WITH NEWS:

[BIDEN]

“WE’RE RESUMING MILITARY TO MILITARY CONTACT, DIRECT CONTACTS. AS A LOT OF YOU KNOW, FOLLOW THIS THAT’S BEEN CUT OFF AND IT’S BEEN VERY WORRISOME. THAT’S HOW ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, MISUNDERSTANDINGS. SO WE’RE BACK TO DIRECT, OPEN, CLEAR, DIRECT COMMUNICATIONS.

[LONGWORTH] AFTERWARD, XI JINPING SAID:

[XI JINPING]

“CHINA NEVER BETS AGAINST THE U.S., NEVER INTERFERES IN ITS INTERNAL AFFAIRS. CHINA HAS NO INTENTION TO CHALLENGE OR TO REPLACE THE U.S.. INSTEAD, WE ARE GLAD TO SEE A CONFIDENT, OPEN, AND PROSPEROUS U.S.. LIKEWISE, THE U.S. SHOULD NOT BET AGAINST CHINA. THE U.S. SHOULD NOT INTERFERE IN CHINA’S INTERNAL AFFAIRS.”

[LONGWORTH]

IN THAT MEETING, THE LEADERS ALSO AGREED TO CURB THE PRODUCTION AND TRAFFICKING OF DRUGS LIKE FENTANYL, WHICH IS MAKING ITS WAY TO THE US.

ADDITIONALLY, XI INDICATED THAT CHINA INTENDS TO DISPATCH NEW PANDAS TO THE UNITED STATES FOLLOWING THE RETURN OF THE THREE PANDAS EARLIER THIS MONTH.