President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet during the G20 summit next week, their first in-person meeting of the Biden presidency.
The two leaders will meet on November 14 in Bali, Indonesia, the White House said Thursday.
“The leaders will discuss efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, responsibly manage competition, and work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges affecting the international community.” “said White House press secretary Karine Jean. Pierre said in a statement Thursday. “The two leaders will also discuss a variety of regional and global issues.”
The meeting comes as US-China relations have hit one of their lowest points in decades and administration officials were careful to set expectations low.
“In no way do I think the two leaders are going to sit down and work out all their differences or problems,” a senior administration official told reporters in a conference call. “But I do think we think some of these steps could be important down the road.”
President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet during the G20 summit in Bali next week, their first face-to-face meeting of the Biden presidency.
The two men have met before, when each man served as vice president of his country. And previous in-person meetings were delayed because Xi was not traveling outside of China during the covid pandemic.
However, the two men have had five conversations since Biden took office.
Next week’s meeting will take place after the president attends a climate conference in Egypt and stops in Cambodia, where he will speak with leaders of Southeast Asian countries.
“President Biden has made it a priority to keep the lines of communication open with President Xi to responsibly manage the competition between our two countries. And he believes there is no channel more important than the one between the leaders of the United States and China,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said at Thursday’s White House news briefing.
‘The meeting between President Biden and President Xi will be a deep and substantive opportunity to better understand each other’s priorities and intentions to address differences and identify areas where we can work together. Because working together to address common problems is in our interest and because it is what the world expects,’ he added.
The president is focused on countering China’s economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region and will focus on building US relationships with other nations in that sphere.
Biden’s priorities for his meeting with Xi include building their relationship, voicing concerns about Taiwan, discussing human rights and rejecting harmful economic practices emerging from Beijing, a senior administration official said on a briefing call with reporters.
But no ‘results’ are expected, the White House was quick to point out. The meeting, instead, would focus on building relationships and clearer communication.
The official said the White House hopes the meeting will be a “substantive and in-depth conversation” between the two leaders, but did not anticipate substantial progress on any major issues.
The meeting was described as “building a floor” in US-China relations.
The two leaders will not issue a joint statement after the meeting, which is usually the protocol.
The official also said Biden would be “honest” about a “number of concerns,” including long-standing human rights issues. The United States has accused China of committing genocide against the minority Muslim population in the western province of Xinjiang.
The official noted that Biden would not make “fundamental concessions” on US support for Taiwan.
They will also talk about North Korea and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Both leaders enter the meeting with strong political tailwinds behind them. Biden’s Democratic Party fared much better than expected in Tuesday’s midterm elections. And Xi was elevated to an unprecedented third term by the Chinese Communist Party.
President Biden and the President had five phone conversations, including the one above, in November 2021.
At his press conference on Wednesday, Biden was asked about his meeting with Xi and what he hoped to get out of it.
“I am not prepared to make any fundamental concessions,” he said. ‘I’ve told him: I’m looking for competition, not conflict.’
Asked specifically if he would tell Xi that he is committed to defending Taiwan, Biden responded: “I’m going to have that conversation with him.”
Under its ‘One China’ policy, the United States recognizes the government in Beijing while allowing informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
It takes a ‘strategic ambiguity’ stance towards Taiwan’s defense, leaving open the question of whether it would respond militarily if the island were attacked.
Biden has promised in the past to use US military force to defend the island from a Chinese invasion.
The issue is one of the most contentious between Biden and Xi.
Tensions between Washington DC and Beijing increased when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island earlier this year.
China made it clear that they wanted her there and threatened to retaliate if she visited.
China has broken off talks with the US on a number of key issues, including the economy and climate change, over their scale.