WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, a meeting that is taking place amid mounting tensions with China over trade, the status of Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.
“What I want to do with him when we talk is to explain what all our red lines are… and determine if they conflict with each other,” Biden said Wednesday. “And if they do, how to solve it and how to work it out.”
The leaders will meet ahead of next week’s Group of 20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
In setting out the president’s national security strategy last month, the government said China and Russia pose the greatest challenge to international peace and stability. While the threat from Russia is immediate, China is the only competitor with the intent and ability to tip the global playing field in its favor, the White House said.
Biden has infuriated China with his pledge to defend Taiwan militarily if China attacks the self-governing island.
While Biden and Xi have met five times since Biden took office, Monday’s meeting will be their first face-to-face meeting.
“I told him: I’m looking for competition, not — no conflict,” Biden said on Wednesday.
Biden is expected to address China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim ethnic groups and concerns about China’s trade practices. They can also discuss areas where the two countries can work together.
What are the stakes?
- Xi’s strength: Xi confirmed his status as one of the world’s most powerful leaders last month when members of the country’s ruling Communist Party gave him a third term as general secretary. Over the past decade, he has had centralized power and has been brutally cracking down on dissent. He has invested billions in international infrastructure projects and has aggressively pursued the construction and militarization of islands in the South China Sea.
- Pelosi’s visit: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this summer has heightened tensions between the US and China. Biden has said multiple times that US military forces would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China, while also insisting that US policy of “strategic ambiguity” towards Taiwan has not changed.
- Midterm elections: The meeting comes as Biden took a hit from the midterm elections domestically. Republicans can still take control of the House or Senate after all the votes have been counted. But the “red tide” that many had predicted, given the high inflation and Biden’s low approval ratings, failed to materialize.
- Contest: Even if Republicans gain control of Congress, China is a potential area of cooperation in a divided government. In July, Biden signed a sweeping bipartisan law that aims to boost domestic computer chip production and counter China’s lead in that sector.
- Russia and China: While Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “no borders” relationship shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, China has not supplied any weapons to Moscow. “I don’t think China has much respect for Russia or Putin,” Biden said on Wednesday. “And actually they’ve kept their distance a little bit.”
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