Biden and Xi to hold first in-person meeting amid strained ties | Politics News

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The US and China are at odds over a range of issues from Taiwan to Hong Kong, trade, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Third-term Chinese leader Xi Jinping is due to meet United States President Joe Biden face-to-face for the first time since Biden was elected to the White House, with the US leader buoyed by a stronger-than-expected performance in the midterm elections.

The two men will meet in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday, ahead of a Group of 20 (G20) summit overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has further strained the relationship between the US and China. The two countries are also at odds over issues including Taiwan, North Korea and trade.

On the eve of his meeting with Xi, Biden told Asian leaders in Cambodia that US communication lines with China would remain open to prevent conflict but that the talks were expected to be tough.

Biden told reporters that he had “always had straightforward discussions” with Xi, and that has prevented either of them from “miscalculations” of their intentions.

“I know him well, he knows me,” Biden said. “We’ve just got to figure out where the red lines are and what are the most important things to each of us, going into the next two years.”

Biden arrived in Bali on Sunday night, as the Democrats were confirmed to have retained control of the Senate after performing better than expected in the midterm elections. Xi, who secured an unprecedented third term at last month’s Communist Party Congress and is China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, is due to arrive on the Indonesian island on Monday.

Relations between the US and China have deteriorated sharply in recent years over issues ranging from Hong Kong and Taiwan to the South China Sea, coercive trade practices and US restrictions on Chinese technology.

Tensions rose further after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi travelled to Taiwan in August. Beijing claims the self-ruled island as its own and was infuriated by the trip, carrying out days of air and naval drills around the island after Pelosi’s departure.

Biden and Xi, who have held five phone or video calls since Biden became president in January 2021, last met in person during the Obama administration when Biden was vice president.

Monday’s meeting is unlikely to produce a joint statement, the White House has said, but there is hope it could lead to a more stable relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

China has indicated its focus for the talks will be US action on trade and Taiwan.

Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, called on the Biden administration to “stop politicising” trade and embrace Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.

Beijing also wants Washington to lift tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2019 and to ease restrictions on Chinese access to chips and other US technology. Biden has left most of those in place and added curbs on access to technology that US officials say can be used in weapons development.

“The United States needs to stop politicising, weaponising and ideologising trade issues,” Zhao said at a briefing.

World politics is also likely to feature prominently in the discussions with Biden urging Beijing to take a more assertive approach to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Chinese leader has largely refrained from public criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, with Beijing abstaining in key United Nations votes.

“We believe that, of course, every country in the world should do more to prevail upon Russia, especially those who have relationships with Russia, to end this war and leave Ukraine,” said US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Officials say Biden will also urge China to rein in ally North Korea after this year’s unprecedented number of missile tests and expectations Pyongyang might soon carry out its seventh nuclear test.

“Beijing has an integral role to play in encouraging North Korean restraint and incentivizing denuclearization,” Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said in emailed comments. “Although there is little chance the Biden-Xi meeting during the G20 will immediately increase cooperation, the framework for dealing with Pyongyang should not be ‘Cold War 2.0’ but rather a multilateral defense of the international order.”

The G20 summit will formally open on Tuesday.

It is only Xi’s second foreign trip since COVID-19 first emerged in the central city of Wuhan nearly three years ago. His first overseas visit since the outbreak of the pandemic was a September summit with Putin and leaders from Central Asia although he did not attend a dinner or photo opportunity where Putin and others wore no masks.


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