The Filoli estate, host to Biden and Xi, has a Hollywood history

Filoli, a grand house and garden on 654 acres of green space along the California coast, was a supporting character in the 1980s television drama “Dynasty” and the 2001 romantic comedy “The Wedding Planner.” It was the site of high-profile weddings for Facebook executives, and the public can tour the gardens.

Just not on Wednesday.

President Biden’s top aides have worked with Chinese officials for weeks to ensure that this orderly setting is the perfect backdrop for a diplomatic summit between Mr. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping – two men who share a deep skepticism of each other but also a mutual belief that their countries they must avoid allowing their diplomatic and military interactions to deteriorate from fierce competition to outright conflict.

San Francisco, the host city of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – known as APEC, a group of 21 countries that surround the Pacific Ocean – would be too bottlenecked and too frenetic to host such a meeting. US officials, mandated to plan a summit that would show respect for Mr Xi and keep him away from protesters, landed on Filoli during their anxious planning process.

The site was attractive for several reasons. It is nestled among the hills, one of the more isolated places in a densely populated corner of California. The location of the meeting was kept secret by the White House until the day before, presumably to prevent protesters from surrounding the venue. None were visible at the gate on Wednesday morning as the procession of Mr. Biden was approaching the site, but some could be seen along the route from San Francisco.

Filoli is a giant estate in the middle of some of the most expensive real estate in the country, built in the early 20th century by a family that made its fortune in the California gold boom and wanted a retreat not far from San Francisco. William Bowers Bourn II, the original owner of the house, decided on the name “Filoli” by mixing together the first few letters of his personal motto: “Fight for a just cause. Love your fellow countryman. Live a good life.”

Today, he is surrounded by wealth that makes the gold boom look like a low-stakes card game. The headquarters of Google, Apple and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, are within a 30-minute drive. And the estate has become a wedding venue for the nouveau riche of the tech boom, with sprawling gardens, a grand ballroom and plenty of room to roam.

The two leaders shook hands at the entrance to the 54,256-square-meter, 56-room home before a wide-ranging bilateral meeting, accompanied by their respective security teams. Biden is scheduled to hold a news conference about Filoli after meeting with Mr. Xi, who is not expected to make public comments.

Biden administration officials don’t know what the two leaders will eat for lunch if they get hungry during their extensive meetings. “I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch,” a slightly exasperated, perhaps hungry, White House spokesman told a reporter who asked John Kirby.

But if the two leaders are feeling angry, Filoli has a restaurant, chefs and a mobile wine truck on the premises.

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