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Politics & Policy

Biden tells CEOs in San Francisco that US is ‘not going anywhere’

U.S. President Joe Biden stands behind a lectern saluting with a blue backdrop in the background that reads: APEC CEO SUMMIT USA 2023
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West on Thursday | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The morning after partying into the night with Gwen Stefani, President Joe Biden took the stage Thursday at the APEC CEO Summit to make the case to executives attending the event in San Francisco that the U.S. is committed to high standards in trade and to partnerships that will benefit economies across the Pacific.

Biden began his remarks by noting the location of where he was making them, joking that San Francisco is about as big as his home state of Delaware. 

“This is a city synonymous with innovation, breaking barriers, where collaboration and coming together has always meant the key to unlocking your potential,” Biden said, noting the region’s deep ties to the Asia-Pacific region.

The roughly 20-minute speech was peppered with references to San Francisco and its global role as a technology hub and gateway city to Asia.

“Our economies are sustainable and resilient and the bridges that connect our people open a Golden Gate of opportunity to create the lives of hope,” Biden said. 

Fresh off his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden also told business leaders that the U.S. was “de-risking and diversifying” but not “decoupling” from Beijing. 

But he did not mince words in suggesting the U.S. and friends in the Pacific could offer businesses a better option than China.

“This is not all ‘Kumbaya,’ but it’s straightforward,” Biden said. “We have real differences with Beijing when it comes to maintaining a fair and level economic playing field and protecting your intellectual property.”

READ MORE: Biden and Xi Jinping Meet in the San Francisco Bay Area

Biden sought to send a clear message about American leadership as business leaders grapple with the risks of doing business in the midst of wars in the Middle East and Europe and a still shaky post-pandemic economy. 

He was also spending time on Thursday letting Indo-Pacific leaders know that the U.S. is committed to nurturing economic ties throughout the region.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Biden said.

AI was a topic of discussion during the president’s bilateral talks with China’s Xi Jinping, and he said the world is at an inflection point due to the technology and a myriad of global challenges. 

“The decisions we make today—this is not hyperbole—are going to shape the direction of the world for decades to come … just think of AI,” Biden said. 

Biden noted that San Francisco is a “world-renowned hub of innovation,” noting AI startup Anthropic (which he pronounced AN-threh-pic).

“I’m going to mispronounce. I’m not even going to try,” Biden said to laughs from the crowd. “It’s better not to try than to mispronounce.”