Biden to meet China’s Xi for first face to face talks on Taiwan and Russia

US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping (AP)
US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping (AP)

Joe Biden will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of next week’s Group of 20 Summit in Bali.

The White House announced Monday’s meeting in Indonesia which comes amid increasingly strained US-China relations.

It will be the first in-person meeting between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies since Biden became President in January 2021 and weeks after Xi was awarded a third, five-year term as Chinese Communist Party leader.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement the pair will “discuss efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between” the two countries and to “responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges that affect the international community”.

Officials have been working with Beijing over several weeks to arrange the talks.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he intended to discuss with Xi growing tensions between Washington and China over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, trade policies and Beijing’s relationship with Russia.

“What I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what each of our red lines are and understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States,” Biden said.

“And determine whether or not they conflict with one another.”

The White House sought to downplay expectations for the meeting, telling reporters there was no joint communique or deliverables anticipated from the sit-down.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said: “I don’t think you should look at this meeting as one in which there’s going to be specific deliverables announced.

“Rather the two leaders are going to give direction to their teams to work on a number of areas, both areas where we have differences and areas where we can work together.”

Biden and Xi met in 2011 and 2012 when both leaders were serving as their respective countries’ vice presidents. They have held five phone or video calls since Biden became president.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Biden has repeatedly taken China to task for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, Beijing’s crackdowns on democracy activists in Hong Kong, coercive trade practices, military provocations against self-ruled Taiwan and differences over Russia’s prosecution of its war against Ukraine.

Weeks before Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president met with Xi in Beijing and the two issued a memorandum expressing hopes of a “no limits” relationship for their nations.

China has largely refrained from criticising Russia’s war but thus far has held off on supplying Moscow with arms.

Both were also expected to address US frustrations that Beijing has not used its influence to press North Korea to pull back from conducting provocative missile tests and to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. Biden was set to discuss threats from Kim Jong-un with the leaders of South Korea and Japan a day before sitting down with Xi.

Sullivan said Biden would meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Seok Yeol on Sunday on the margins of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, where North Korea’s saber rattling is expected to be the focus of talks.

Xi’s government has criticised the Biden administration’s posture toward Taiwan — which Beijing looks eventually to unify with the communist mainland — as undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese president also has suggested that Washington wants to stifle Beijing’s growing clout as it tries to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy.