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Biden And Xi Face-To-Face At High Stakes-Summit; Gaza Hospital Raid; Emergency Hearing In Georgia. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 14:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Now. A rare face-to-face global power Biden and China's President Xi had rising tensions. So, can they reset relations?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Plus, Israeli troops raid Gaza's largest hospital after claiming Hamas is using it as a terror cell. But will the IDF show evidence, as Hamas and hospital officials deny this? And where are vulnerable patients supposed to go? And also, emergency hearing in Fulton County, Georgia. Why the district attorney there says they need to seal evidence in the state's election subversion case against former President Trump and others. We are following these major developing stories and many more, all coming in right here to CNN News Central.

BROWN: At any moment now, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet face-to-face for the first time in a year of escalating tensions. President Biden is hoping that this highly anticipated meeting will put the U.S.-China relationship on steadier footing, but the president has been careful to lower expectations heading into it. The summit is taking place at a historic estate south of San Francisco on the sidelines of a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders.

CNN's David Culver joins us now from San Francisco. So, you know, Biden has made clear, look, talking is really important at this stage with China, but what is the expectation? What is the expectation for what will come out of this meeting?

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that is actually sad but basic reality in all of this talking, Pamela, is an important part and a first step in something that hasn't happened in a year between these 2 leaders. So, we're at that point now. In fact, I'm just seeing that both President Xi and President Biden have arrived at that estate just south of where we are here in San Francisco, and this is where they're gonna be having this bilateral discussion that could last about four hours.

As far as the agenda items, really depends on who you ask. President Biden, we tend to get much more transparency on the U.S. side. He says that this is about making things normal again. Tough to remember what that looks like. And also, about reestablishing military communications. This has been severed since 2 summers ago, and it's really an important and crucial time given how highly contested the South China Sea is right now on the Taiwan Strait. So, getting back on track with that seems to be a priority on the U.S. side.

As far as China is concerned, we don't hear from President Xi directly ahead of the events like this. That tends to be how the Chinese handle things. They keep quiet and will put out a readout, if that, on the back end, or you have to look at it through state media. But we can look at what China needs, and that is a boost in their economy. So, look for something that would be economy-related that could benefit China, perhaps easing some pressure on Chinese businesses to allow that boost to take place, which in turn, Pamela, allows for social stability within China, which is crucial for the Chinese Communist Party.

BROWN: Yeah, and President Biden had hinted that China's economy isn't doing so great right now. And as you point out, China wouldn't come to the table unless it was going to get something from the U.S. in this meeting. For the U.S. part, you know, it is warning, look, there's not gonna be a long list of outcomes after this, or likely won't be this joint statement that is customary with a high stakes meeting like this. So, I mean, is this, at the end of the day, just about preventing tensions from spiraling further out of control between the U.S. and China?

CULVER: Strange to think how much lower we could go, right, between these two countries. But yeah, I think it's about cooling tensions. That certainly seems to be a priority for President Biden, if anything, to avoid a U.S.-China conflict. There are enough conflicts right now on the global stage. Particularly, he wants to refocus on Israel and Hamas, as well as Russia and Ukraine, and focus energies on the 2024 campaign.


China to what you mentioned there in the struggling economy, it is critical for them to figure out how to in some way to survive through what's been an incredible downfall in recent years. And so, they're going to be looking for any sort of aspect that could help them boost that. And that's going to also include Pamela meeting with some business leaders here in San Francisco.

BROWN: That's right. So, tell us more about that. And what can you tell us about that? It's also worth reminding our viewers that the Chinese president Xi actually studied in Iowa. Right. About 40 years ago.


BROWN: And he's going to be meeting with Iowa (ph) as well in California.

CULVER: He has he invited a few of what we call his old friends to San Francisco from Iowa. You're right about that. And he's got ties here to San Francisco to his first visit to the United States was in 1985. He was a Communist Party official, not nearly as high up, obviously, as he is now, having secured a near unprecedented third term last year, essentially setting the groundwork for him to rule for life.

But this meeting with business leaders, that's going to be interesting because it's already proved to be very, very polarizing here in the U.S. Essentially, what China needs is to move these business leaders, particularly American companies, back into China. What we have seen in the past couple of years is that these companies have been dissuaded from doing business in China, in part because of Beijing's crackdown on companies. We've seen some offices of American corporations being raided in places like Shanghai.

So they're hesitant and they're concerned about also getting profit out of China back into the U.S. So, these are things that need to be alleviated and discussed. And there is a big welcome Xi dinner, if you will, that's planned after this one-on-one with President Biden and President Xi. But that has drawn a lot of concern from lawmakers, one in particular, a chairman of the House Select Committee that focuses on the CCP. That's Mike Gallagher.

He has called this unconscionable. And the reason he's concerned is because there's a price tag for these business leaders to attend this dinner. In some cases, it's reported to be up to $40,000 for a seat at the table with President Xi. So he is not happy about that. To the point, Pamela, he wants to know what companies are involved and what individuals will be going to this dinner.

BROWN: All right, David Culver, thanks. Brianna.

KEILAR: A pivotal moment in Gaza right now, Israeli troops carrying out a raid at Gaza's largest hospital. It's an operation that has taken almost an entire day. And the Israel Defense Forces claim they uncovered, quote, concrete evidence that Hamas was using the hospital as a headquarters, as a command node. They promise to present that evidence to the world. Doctors there at al-Shifa have repeatedly denied such claims.

But Israel and the U.S. previously said intel indicated Hamas did indeed have operational infrastructure at the hospital. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Sderot, Israel for us. All right, Jeremy, how is the IDF justifying this operation? We haven't yet seen this evidence they're promising.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHTE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Brianna. Well, the IDF actually just started to share some of that video evidence showing inside the hospital that there are AK-47s, ammunition, grenades, etc., go bags, as it was described in the video, placed in different parts of the Shifa complex. They show 1 room in particular, which they say is an MRI center at Shifa Hospital. And they say that they found one of these bags behind the MRI machine.

Now, there's no way for us to independently verify the veracity of these claims. We obviously were not able to be with Israeli troops as they uncovered this -- these weapons and ammunition. But the IDF is saying that this points to clear evidence that Hamas was using Shifa Hospital for -- to carry out some of its operations. What they are not yet revealing is whether or not they found any tunnel entrances or shafts to that massive underground complex, which not only Israeli officials but also U.S. officials have now said they believe, based on their intelligence, exists below Shifa Hospital.

What we also know, Brianna, is that Israeli troops are continuing to operate at Shifa Hospital at this hour. And it's not clear whether -- how much longer they intend to stay there. Earlier today, I had a briefing with a senior Israeli defense forces official who told me that there were no battles between troops and Hamas militants on the Shifa complex, but that as they arrived at the Shifa complex, they killed 4 Hamas militants on the outside of that very large hospital complex.

What we also know and what is also clear is that thousands of people were at Shifa Hospital when Israeli troops entered. They gave doctors about a half-hour notice before they arrived at the hospital to carry out this operation, to carry out these searches. That includes not only doctors and patients but also thousands of people, displaced Gazans, who have been sheltering on the hospital grounds.


A reporter inside Shifa Hospital when this happened told our colleagues that he heard heavy gunfire battles across the hospital yard over the night, and that they also saw tanks and armored personnel carriers and a large number of troops at the hospital. What's also clear is that there are still patients at this hospital, and the conditions are extremely precarious, including for those premature babies, which the whole world has seen at this point as doctors have been desperately trying to save them.

Israeli forces say that as part of this operation, they delivered incubators and other medical supplies to the Shifa Hospital. The video that they provided of that, we can geolocate it to Shifa Hospital, but we can't independently confirm when exactly those supplies were delivered. At this hour, the director of Gaza's hospital says that those premature babies are in severe danger and that evacuating them right now is just very, very difficult. Brianna.

KEILAR: It's essential, though, as we have seen. It certainly is. Jeremy, you're there in Sderot. You are very close to northern Gaza. What are you seeing?

DIAMOND: Well, what's interesting is that yesterday, Israel's defense minister, Yoav Galan, said that Israeli forces were effectively in total control of the northern part of the Gaza Strip, that Hamas had lost its grip on the northern part of the Gaza Strip, focusing in particular on the area above Gaza City, which is right behind me right now. And what we've been witnessing, not only last night, overnight, as this operation was happening in Gaza City, early this morning, but also this evening, is intense battles still happening between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in the area behind me.

It appears to have been in the area of Beit Lahiya, as well as that Jabalia refugee camp. We saw explosions. We saw tracer fire being shot. And intense gun battles also happening in two directions, apparently, between Hamas militants and Israeli forces. And so, it's clear that even as Israeli forces push deeper into the Gaza Strip, deeper into Gaza City itself, they are also still very much dealing with the threat of Hamas militants in the northern part of the Strip.

Part of that may have to do with the tunnel systems that Hamas has. We know that Israeli forces have told us repeatedly over the last several weeks that ambushes are one of the most serious threats that their forces face as they operate inside Gaza.

KEILAR: Yeah, extremely dangerous operations they're conducting there. Jeremy Diamond in Sderot, thank you so much. We have Nada Bashir, who is in Jerusalem. And Nada, strong condemnations coming from the UN and the WHO about this hospital raid. What can you tell us?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. There have been repeated calls now from both organizations, as well as other human rights and medical groups, calling for the protection and security of civilians to be the primary concern here, to be the priority, despite Israel's ongoing military operation inside the Gaza Strip.

As we know, of course, this is a hospital that still holds hundreds of patients, and there is deep-seated concern around their security, not least, of course, because we continue to see bombardment in and around the vicinity of the Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest hospital. And of course, the situation inside the hospital has been deteriorating for days now.

As we know, this is one of the vast majority of hospitals in northern Gaza that is technically now not operational. They do not have enough medical supplies. They do not have fuel to keep their generators going. And as we saw, and as Jeremy mentioned, we've seen oxygen supplies in the neonatal unit being completely cut off at the Al-Shifa Hospital. So, a huge amount of concern around the capability of doctors to be able to provide the urgent care that is needed by so many patients inside the Al-Shifa Hospital.

And of course, we have heard those repeated calls from the Israeli military for civilians to evacuate from northern Gaza to southern Gaza. And, of course, as we know, it is extremely difficult for patients to evacuate through that route.

KEILAR: Yeah, it certainly is. Just a snapshot there of the larger, broader humanitarian crisis. Nada Bashir, thank you so much for that. Pam. BROWN: Thanks, Brianna. President Biden just about to arrive for his

meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. MJ Lee is standing by for us. The White House really rolling out the red carpet for this high- stakes meeting, MJ. Meeting at this Georgian mansion right outside of San Francisco. Everything has been so carefully choreographed leading up to this meeting, right?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yeah, and that is very much expected, given that the stakes really could not be higher for both leaders. We have heard that both leaders have actually arrived at this historic estate. So, any minute now, we should be seeing pictures of the two leaders shaking hands.

[14:15:09] Now, just to give you a little bit of context here, of course, the last time that the two leaders met face-to-face was about a year ago on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali. And you think about everything that has transpired over the last year, where the 2 countries' relationship has really deteriorated.

There was, of course, the issue of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down. There was also the issue of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan, which very much angered Beijing officials. And that ultimately ended up leading to the military-to- military communications between the 2 countries being severed. And we are told that behind the scenes, in their conversations that they have had with their Chinese counterparts, U.S. officials for months have been pressing them to consider reestablishing that communication, which they say is so critical to making sure that there are not any unnecessary misunderstandings between the 2 countries.

And we are told that they have used the example of the surveillance balloon as an example of why that kind of communication being open is so important. So, as we were talking about before, that is just one of the few tangible outcomes that U.S. officials hope to see coming out of this summit, which should be beginning any moment now.

BROWN: Yeah, we are expecting the two leaders of the 2 superpowers to arrive any moment now. You know, when they met a year ago in Bali, the goal was to essentially establish a floor. And ahead of this meeting, administration officials have also been trying to temper expectations in terms of outcomes, right, MJ?

LEE: In terms of specific outcomes, Pam, yes. But I think in the big picture, as we have been talking to U.S. officials heading into this summit, they say, look, we do have a goal, a big picture goal. And that really is to bring U.S.-China relations back to a new normal, whatever that might be. Again, that is about establishing those lines of communication, making sure diplomatic conversations that are happening so that even though the 2 countries are competitors and they have plenty of areas where they disagree, they can work together on areas where there are areas where they can work together, but also just to make sure that there aren't any unnecessary sort of crises that come up between the 2 countries.

So, I think that is going to be sort of the headline that we see coming out of this summit.


BROWN: MJ, I'm just going to interrupt you because we're seeing the two leaders meet in this remarkable moment. President Biden, President Xi Jinping of China meeting ahead of this high stakes meeting between the two superpowers.

KEILAR: That's right. Very big day here as they are meeting. And this is a very dramatic place where they are meeting, sending a signal of just how important this is. They haven't met here. There hasn't been a meeting for several years as they go inside there at the Fotolia estate between San Jose and San Francisco. This is on the sidelines of the APEC summit. But this year, this is the big meeting.

And there are so many topics to cover as we are joined by Evan Osnos and Matthew Kroenig. You know, one of the things -- we were just talking about Gaza, one of the things that they're supposed to touch on is, you know, leaning on China to lean on Iran, to lean on its proxies, to not provoke a further situation in the region, in the Middle East as Israel and Hamas is battling it out. But do you think that China is really going to be receptive to that? What is that going to look like as Biden is asking that of Xi?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think you saw in the body language right there, this is a solemn occasion. You know, this was not a particularly amorous, friendly encounter where two old friends are getting back together. This is business. And they got right into it. They walked in the door. We're going to hear more from them in a few hours.

China has leverage when it comes to Iran. They are Iran's biggest consumer for energy. They buy a million barrels of oil a day. The United States is saying to Iran, look, you're in a position to not necessarily persuade and get Iran to change its behavior fundamentally. But we want you to thoroughly understand that we expect you to use your leverage when you can. A meeting like this is especially important face to face because we don't know what kind of information Xi Jinping is getting from the people around him.

That's at the core of this. In a regular government where you know that the foreign minister is going to speak to the president and say the hard truths, then you can give your message to the foreign minister. In this case, you have to give it directly to Xi Jinping because he's the decision maker.

BROWN: And Matthew, to bring you in on this, just to take a step back, big picture for our viewers tuning in right now. How significant is this meeting? Why should everyone care about these two leaders meeting right now?

MATTHEW KROENIG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the United States and China are the two world's two biggest superpowers, the 2 largest economies on earth. There is a real fear that the United States and China could go to war over Taiwan.


Xi has asked the People's Liberation Army to give him the ability to invade Taiwan by 2027. And so, I think the Biden administration is trying to put guardrails on the relationship, trying to find some areas for cooperation and communication as a ballast on the relationship. Now I'm sceptical that they'll fully succeed and I'm sceptical to the previous question that China is really going to help the United States solve its major problems. But still, I think it is important that there's this channel for for dialogue.

BROWN: Right, because so much of an animated feature of the relationship between China and Russia and China and Iran is hatred and antithesis toward the U.S., right? OSNOS: Yeah, look at its core, the relationship that Xi Jinping has

with Vladimir Putin is about the fact that they are, in their minds, the 2 leaders who are standing up to the United States. There was a really telling moment a few months ago when Xi visited Putin at the Kremlin and it was caught on camera. You heard Xi say to him, there are changes unfolding in the world, the likes of which we haven't seen in a century. And he said, and you and I are leading the charge, to which Putin said, I agree.

And that is what the United States, that's the lock that we're trying to pick to some degree. We're trying to say to Xi Jinping, yes, we know where you've lined up for now. But remember, there is this larger context that Matt was describing, where we expect that it is if you want to be treated like Russia, we'll treat you like Russia. But we are trying to say to you, we have other options. There are other paths you can take.

KEILAR: A new world order is what they're talking about. So, we're looking at this meeting at a critical time. It's been rocky. If it goes off the rails, then what? Then what does the world order look like? Then what do we reflect on this meeting as a moment of?

KROENIG: Well, I do think that this is a major inflection point in world history. We had this post-Cold War period. But I think that period is over and don't know what we're going to call this new period. Some are referring to it as a new Cold War. But I do think this could be a decades-long competition between the United States and its allies in the free world and China, which is a revisionist autocracy, increasingly working with some of these other revisionist autocracies, as was pointed out, Russia, Iran, North Korea. And so unfortunately, I don't think the meeting today is going to solve this. I think this is going to be a contentious relationship, probably for decades to come.

OSNOS: I do think that when we talk about a summit, by the way, you know, that term came from Winston Churchill in 1950. He talked about the importance of meeting at the highest level, high-altitude meetings with the Soviets. His idea was, look, you have to go to the very top and you have to talk to them. His theory, as he liked to say, was it's better to meet jaw to jaw than it is to go to war. So, this is a meeting very much in that tradition to say, let's just keep talking because the alternative is unattractive.

BROWN: But for historical context here, Matthew, when you look at Sorry, that's okay. That happens when you're on TV a lot.


BROWN: That happens to all of us. When you're on TV a lot.

KROENIG: I think she -- Siri wanted to weigh in here on my question. But for historical context, when Xi Jinping has met with past US presidents, Trump, Obama, commitments were made. What happened?

KROENIG: Yes. Well, and put it in a bigger historical context, I think Xi is a different type of Chinese leader. You know, the United States tried to engage China for many decades after the end of the Cold War with some success. But I think Xi has decided he's taking the relationship in a different direction and wants to compete with the United States.

And so, he has let us down in the past. He told Obama he wasn't going to militarize the South China Sea. And then he did that. He told Trump he was going to work on fentanyl. And China is also dishonest on other issues as well. It lies about the genocide in Xinjiang. It lies about its GDP numbers. So, I do think we have to take anything that's agreed upon today with a grain of salt.

KEILAR: Do they understand each other, these two leaders?

OSNOS: They've spent a lot of time together. I mean, and you've heard Biden talk about it before. I was living in Beijing, actually, when Biden came over the first time and met with him. And they went out on this kind of really almost like a buddy comedy road trip where they went across China. Then Xi Jinping came to the United States. They visited in Los Angeles. At the time, Biden went back and said to his advisers, he said, this man doesn't have a democratic bone in his body. And he also said, we've got our hands full with this guy. So, on some level, yeah, I do think that Biden understands a bit about how the fact is that Xi Jinping regards himself as different than the guys before him.


JOESEPH BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The APEC leaders meeting this week. Look, this time of year, about a year and a day ago, we met in Bali on the sidelines of the G20. Since then, key members of our teams have had important discussions on issues matters to both our nations and to the world. But as always, there's no substitute to face-to-face discussions.


I've always found our discussions straightforward and frank, and I've always appreciated them. Mr. President, we've known each other for a long time. We haven't always agreed, which was not a surprise to anyone. But our meetings have always been candid, straightforward, and useful. I've never doubted what you've told me in terms of your candidness in which you speak.

I value our conversation because I think it's paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader-to-leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunication. We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict. And we also have to manage it responsibly, the competition. That's what the United States wants and what we intend to do.

We also, I also believe it's what the world wants from both of us, candid exchange. We also have a responsibility to our people and the work -- and the world to work together when we see it in our interest to do so. And a critical global challenge that we face, from climate change to counter-narcotics to artificial intelligence, demand our joint efforts. So, I look forward to beginning this discussion, and I welcome you. And the floor is yours, Mr. President. And again, welcome back.

XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA: Chinese President Good morning. Coming here, I thought of, I think of your trip to China. When I was the vice president of China, we had a meeting. It was 12 years ago. I still remember our interactions very vividly. And it always gives me a lot of thoughts. Last time we met in Bali, you said it was a year and a day ago. A lot has happened since then. The world has emerged from the COVID pandemic, but is still under its tremendous impacts.

The global economy is recovering, but its momentum remains sluggish. Industrial and supply chains are still under the threat of interruption, and protectionism is rising. All these are grave problems. China-U.S. relationship, which is the most important bilateral relationship in the world, should be perceived and envisioned in a broad context of the accelerating global transformations unseen in a century.

It should develop in a way that benefits our two peoples and fulfils our responsibility for human progress. China-U.S. relationship has never been smooth sailing over the past 50 years or more, and it always faces problems of one kind or another. Yet it has kept moving forward amid twists and turns. For 2 large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option.

It is unrealistic for 1 side to remodel the other, and conflict and confrontation has unbearable consequences for both sides. I'm still of the view that major country competition is not the pervading trend of current times and cannot solve the problems facing China and the United States or the world at large. Planet Earth is big enough for the 2 countries to succeed, and 1 country's success is an opportunity for the other.

It is an objective fact that China and the United States are different in history, culture, social system, and development path. However, as long as they respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation, they will be fully capable of rising above differences and find the right way for the 2 major countries to get along with each other. I firmly believe in the promising future of the bilateral relationship.

Mr. President, you and I, we are at the helm of China-U.S. relations. We shoulder heavy responsibilities for the 2 peoples, for the world, and for history. I look forward to having an in-depth exchange of views and reach new understandings with you on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-U.S. relations and on major issues affecting world peace and development.