Biden and Xi to Hold Diplomatic Talks at Historic Filoli Estate

U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping are set to engage in one-on-one discussions at the historic Filoli estate, a picturesque country house with expansive gardens. Located along Northern California’s coastal range, the estate, initially built as a private residence in 1917, now stands as a National Trust for Historic Preservation site. The secluded venue, about 25 miles south of San Francisco, was disclosed by senior administration officials ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ conference.

The choice of Filoli, surrounded by over 650 acres of Georgian revival-style architecture and an English Renaissance-style garden, is seen as meeting Xi’s expectations for a private meeting away from the main summit venue. According to Bonnie Glaser from the German Marshall Fund, this secluded setting provides an intimate and distinct space for Biden and Xi to engage in diplomatic dialogue.

China’s President Xi aims to present himself as Biden’s equal, projecting an image of commanding respect. The estate’s seclusion from the APEC summit reinforces the perception of a separate, bilateral summit.

Jeremi Suri, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, highlights the potential for the serene environment to foster communication and trust between the leaders, drawing parallels with the historic meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik in 1986.

Filoli, named by San Francisco socialite William Bowers Bourn II, offers an escape for the leaders from media scrutiny and potential conflicts. The estate’s availability for private events, weddings, and filming adds to its allure as a diplomatic setting.

As Biden and Xi navigate discussions amid global tensions, the historic Filoli estate provides a symbolic backdrop for diplomatic efforts, echoing the notion that secluded environments can play a pivotal role in fostering international relationships.

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