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Biden and Xi Jinping will meet next week. Don't expect it to change the rules of the game.

President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will hold their first face-to-face talks in a year next week. Analysts believe this meeting may help stabilize the precarious relationship between the two countries, but it is unlikely to change its trajectory.

U.S.-China relations have long been mired in disagreements over trade, technology, security, and human rights issues, but distrust and tensions have noticeably escalated in recent years, and the Biden administration has redefined these relations as inherently competitive.

Biden and Xi will have "in-depth discussions" on November 15 in the San Francisco Bay Area when leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries gather for their annual meeting, a senior Biden administration official said.

This announcement follows months of diplomatic negotiations aimed at smoothing differences and laying the groundwork for the first interaction between the leaders since they met for a few hours in Bali, Indonesia, in November of last year. Another administration official sought to temper expectations.

"These are not the relations that existed five or ten years ago. We're not talking about a long list of outcomes or deliverables. The goals here are really about managing competition, preventing the risk of conflict, and ensuring open channels of communication," the official said.

Already tense relations were pushed to the backburner after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was spotted over the United States in February. The Biden administration claimed that the balloon was equipped with high-tech surveillance equipment and shot it down, while China says it was a weather balloon that had gone off course and accuses the U.S. of an overreaction.

Since the summer, both sides have made efforts to re-engage. The Biden administration sent three cabinet members and climate czar John Kerry to China, and Beijing reciprocated by sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Washington in October. China's top economic official, Communist Party Politburo member Han Zheng, met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in San Francisco this week.

Subnational exchanges are also on the rise: this week, a group of U.S. mayors and the Philadelphia Orchestra visited China.

Analysts say that Biden and Xi are likely to agree to continue building momentum for dialogue.

"I don't think either side expects serious outcomes or major breakthroughs in the relationship, but it can give both sides an opportunity to continue making progress in areas where we've seen improvement," said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

She points to so-called people-to-people ties, increased travel between the two countries post-pandemic, and cooperation on climate change as positive signs.

"It's good news in terms of institutionalizing dialogue under the leadership of the two presidents," Lin said.

The Biden administration is disappointed with what it sees as inadequate action by the Chinese government to stem the flow of fentanyl precursor chemicals, which are at the heart of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States. Officials say this has become a central issue in U.S.-China relations.

The senior administration official said that Biden will "firmly press" for the resumption of high-level military dialogue, which was nearly completely halted by China after then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

U.S. officials argue that regular lines of communication are needed to help de-escalate in the event of a catastrophe, and some see the likelihood of such a catastrophe increasing as tensions rise in the South China Sea and in Taiwan, where the militaries of both countries frequently operate in close proximity.

Oriana Skylar Mastro, a China expert at Stanford University and author of the forthcoming book "The Devil You Know: China's Rise as a Global Power," says she expects a resumption of dialogue but questions how stable or productive it can be, given China's tendency to use it as a diplomatic tool.

"You can expect the next time they're unhappy with something, perhaps after Taiwan's elections, that they'll turn it off again, and that will be enough to destabilize the relationship," she said. Taiwan is scheduled to hold presidential elections in January.

The first senior administration official said that China's commitment to stabilizing relations remains unclear.

"The question is really on the agenda: Is China pursuing these steps for tactical or short-term reasons, or is it genuinely trying to improve relations with the United States and other allies and partners? And we're going to scrutinize these assumptions carefully," the official said.