US President Joe Biden will have a virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday (15), said the White House, in talks that Washington hopes will create some stability amid rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
It is expected to be the most extensive meeting of leaders under the Biden government and will be followed by a phone call between the two on 9 September.
Washington and Beijing have debated issues from the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic to the expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal. US officials believe direct involvement with Xi is the best way to prevent the ties from escalating into conflict.
“The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage competition…as well as ways to work together where our interests align,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “President Biden will make clear US intentions and priorities and will be clear and frank about our concerns.”
Beijing also wants to avoid clashes, as Xi faces a crucial year with China’s Winter Olympics and a major Communist Party Congress, where he hopes to secure an unprecedented third term.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday (13) that leaders would exchange views on bilateral relations and issues of common interest at the summit, which will take place on Tuesday morning (16) in Asia.
A senior US official said Biden would make it clear he appreciates the fierce competition with China but doesn’t want conflict, and downplayed the likelihood of a long list of outcomes often linked to high-level meetings.
“It’s not about looking for specific products or results,” the official said, adding in reference to the People’s Republic of China: “While we compete with the PRC, President Biden expects President Xi and the PRC to abide by traffic rules – and he will do this during the meeting.”
The meeting comes after Biden signs a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal at a grand ceremony on Monday to celebrate domestic renewal plans he believes will position the United States to surpass China.
US officials downplayed the possibility of progress in trade, where China is lagging behind in a commitment to buy $200 billion more in US goods and services.
China, however, continued to push for relief of hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump, arguing that it could help both sides by easing inflation and increasing employment.
Biden and Xi described competing views at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meetings this week, with Biden emphasizing the US commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific” which Washington says faces increasing “coercion ” Chinese, while Xi warned against a return to Cold War tensions.
Addressing APEC leaders on Friday, Xi spoke of the need to “maintain dialogue rather than confrontation, inclusion rather than exclusion and integration rather than dissociation”, an apparent reference to US moves towards make China’s main independent supply chains.
Climate is a priority for Biden, and China and the United States, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, announced an agreement at global talks in Glasgow this week to increase cooperation, including cutting methane emissions, phasing out methane. consumption of charcoal and the protection of forests.
However, the superpowers have increasingly come into confrontation over Taiwan’s self-government, which Beijing claims is its own and that Washington must provide the means to defend itself.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken angered China this week when he said Washington and its allies would take unspecified “actions” if China used force to alter Taiwan’s status quo, further clouding long-standing US policy in “strategic ambiguity” as to whether the United States would respond militarily.
Chinese diplomat Wang Yi told Blinken in a phone call Saturday that the United States should not send the wrong signals to Taiwanese pro-independence forces, according to a statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.
“If the United States really wants to keep the peace in the Taiwan Straits, it should clearly and resolutely oppose any pro-Taiwan independence behavior,” Wang said.
Wang and Blinken also exchanged views on areas such as energy efficiency, climate change and Iran’s nuclear issue and agreed to maintain a dialogue on global challenges, China said.
Daniel Russell, the top US diplomat for Asia under the Obama administration, said Biden and Xi are concerned about the risk of escalating a military incident.
“Biden knows that crisis prevention and management tools are rusty, so we should expect him to push to put in safeguards or ‘barriers’ to reduce the risk,” he said.
Russell said the Biden-Xi liaison on September 9 began with Xi listing grievances but ended with a constructive agreement for authorities to continue discussions.
“This suggests that the personal relationship Biden built with Xi a decade ago is still strong and that each conversation can add some stability to the mix.”
Reference: CNN Brasil