Joe Biden to meet China’s Xi Jinping for first time in office ahead of G20 summit

Montage of US president Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping (AFP via Getty Images)
Montage of US president Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping (AFP via Getty Images)

US president Joe Biden will meet China’s leader Xi Jinping for the first time since taking office on Monday.

The meeting ahead of the G20 summit in Bali comes as relations between the two countries are mired at their lowest in decades.

Mr Biden is expected to raise US concerns over Taiwan, Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions at the meeting.

He will attend the meeting after a major domestic political victory with the Democrats managing to hang on to control of the Senate in the midterm elections.

“I know I’m coming in stronger but I don’t need that. I know Xi Jinping, I spent more time with him than any other world leader." Biden told reporters in Cambodia on Sunday after the Senate results.

“There’s never any miscalculation about ... where each of us stands."

Mr Biden has said he hopes to build a “floor for the relationship" with China and ensure there are rules to bind competition between the two nations.

He has recently said he was unwilling to make any fundamental concessions when he meets Mr Xi, and that he wanted both leaders to lay out their "red lines" and resolve areas of conflict.

While no joint statement is expected after the meeting, Mr Biden will deliver remarks and answer reporters’ questions following his meetings, said the White House.

The two leaders, who have held five phone or video calls since Biden took office in January 2021, last met in person during the Obama administration.

Strains flared especially after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August trip to Taiwan, the self-governed democratic island that Beijing claims as its territory.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the meeting could run for two hours or more, and Biden would be “totally straightforward and direct" in the conversation.

“The president sees the United States and China as being engaged in a stiff competition, but that competition should not tip over into conflict or confrontation," Mr Sullivan told reporters.

He said Biden would also look for areas where the United States and China could work together, including climate change or public health.

The two leaders know each other well, having travelled over 17,000 miles together and spent 78 hours in meetings, according to Biden’s calculations.

They spent time together in the United States and China in 2011 and 2012 when both were serving as their respective countries’ vice presidents.