Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Biden and Xi

Biden to meet China’s Xi Jinping at G20 amid strained relations

First in-person talks between the two leaders since Biden took office aim to ‘deepen lines of communication’, US says.
First in-person talks between the two leaders since Biden took office aim to ‘deepen lines of communication’, US says.

US President Joe Biden will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit next week, the White House has announced, in what will be the first in-person talks between the two leaders since Biden took office in early 2021.

In a statement on Thursday, the White House said Biden would speak with Xi on November 14 in Bali, Indonesia, about “efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication” between the two countries at a time of growing tensions.

The pair will also discuss efforts to “responsibly manage competition” and how to “work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges that affect the international community”, the statement read.

The meeting comes amid increasing frustration between the US and Chinese governments over issues such as trade policy, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and China’s approach to Taiwan.

The White House worked with Chinese officials for several weeks to set up Monday’s talks, The Associated Press news agency reported.

While Biden and Xi have held a few virtual meetings, the discussion in Bali will be the first time they have spoken face-to-face since Biden became president in January of last year.

It also comes just weeks after Xi secured an historic, third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, cementing his place as one of the nation’s most influential leaders.

Shortly after winning his third term, Xi said in a letter that the US and China must “find ways to get along in the new era”. Biden has also noted that while the US sees China as a competitor, “we’re making it clear that we don’t seek conflict.”

That commitment has been tested over a number of issues, including what the US sees as China’s increasingly assertive approach towards the self-governed island of Taiwan, which Beijing views as part of its territory, and US steps that aim to undermine China’s manufacturing of semiconductor chips.

In recent years, the US also has criticised China’s human rights record, particularly as it concerns its Uighur Muslim minority in the western province of Xinjiang.

The United Nations has said at least one million Uighurs and other minorities are being held in a network of detention centres in what the UN human rights office said in September could amount to “crimes against humanity”.

China has said the measures are necessary to counter “extremism” while rejecting international criticism as “disinformation”.

Biden on Wednesday told reporters that he intended to discuss with Xi growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, as well as trade policies and Beijing’s relationship with Russia, among other things.

“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.”

A senior US administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the summit, sought to downplay expectations for the meeting, telling reporters on Thursday that there was no joint communique or deliverables anticipated from the sit-down.

Rather, the official said, Biden aimed to build a “floor for the relationship”.

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