Biden to meet Xi Jinping at G20 in first face-to-face talks as president

Joe Biden will meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit, the White House has said, in their first face-to-face talks since the US leader became president.

“The leaders will discuss efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication,” as well as how to “responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges”, the White House spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, said in a statement.

The two met before Biden became president and have spoken by phone a number of times over the past 22 months, but the Covid pandemic and Xi’s aversion to foreign travel has prevented them from meeting in person.

Biden hopes the meeting will allow him to build a “floor” for relations between the two countries, but he will be honest about US concerns, including over Taiwan and human rights, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

“The president believes it is critical to build a floor for the relationship and ensure that there are rules of the road that bound our competition,” the official told reporters.

“I expect the president will be honest about a number of our concerns, including PRC [People’s Republic of China] activity that threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as our longstanding concerns about human rights violations,” the official said.

Their meeting during the summit in Bali comes after Xi last month was awarded a landmark third term as Chinese Communist party general secretary.

The two countries have a massive investment and trade relationship but are also challenging each other’s military and diplomatic influence, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

They also face a potential flash point over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, a close ally of the United States that Xi has made clear he believes should be under Beijing’s control.

On Wednesday, Biden said he has already made clear to Xi that he is “looking for competition, not conflict”.

Biden said they will discuss Taiwan, but added that the US stance on the island “has not changed at all from the very beginning”.

Also on the menu are stepped-up missile test launches by North Korea, which the United States and allies consider a growing threat to East Asia.

Washington wants Beijing to pressure the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to reel back its activities and engage in talks on denuclearization.

“This is an area where China and the United States have had a history of working together,” a senior US administration official told reporters.

Biden said on Wednesday he would like to lay out “what each of our red lines are, [to] understand what [Xi] believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States, and to determine whether or not they conflict with one another.

“And if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out,” he added.

The Biden administration official said no joint statement from the two leaders was planned after their meeting.


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