WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Joe Biden will have a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday night.
- The summit comes as the two nations are at odds on major geopolitical issues like trade, human rights, military buildup, Taiwan and cybersecurity.
- Biden is making it a priority to maintain open lines of communication with Beijing.
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet virtually on Monday night, marking the first bilateral summit between the two leaders since Biden hold office.
The high-stakes meeting is likely to cover a range of topics including tensions over China’s military activity near Taiwan and human rights, as well as cooperation on climate change. The announcement came after the U.S. and China reached an agreement on a joint statement on the need to tackle climate change at a United Nations summit in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this week.
Officials had been working for several weeks to schedule the meeting after an agreement in principle was reached in October for Biden and Xi to meet virtually sometime before the end of this year.
During a press briefing later Friday, Jen Psaki said the meeting is a “continuation of the intensive diplomacy” the Biden administration has undertaken with respect to China over the previous 10 months. She said that specific deliverables were not expected out of the summit.
The meeting will put to the test Biden’s approach of trying to work with China on areas of potential compromise, like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, while raising objections to China’s behavior on human rights, its trade practices and its military activity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this month in Glasgow, Biden said he wanted to make it clear that the U.S. is seeking “competition” but not “conflict” with China.
“I want to make sure there’s no misunderstanding. It’s competition, not conflict,” Biden said.
Tensions between the U.S. and China ran high during the Trump administration and have persisted under Biden due to disagreements on several fronts. The first high-level meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage was memorably tense and raised questions about the way forward.
Biden and Xi have spoken twice by phone, the most recent conversation in September taking place for 90 minutes and covering a wide array of subjects.
In the time since, Biden has publicly vowed to protect Taiwan in the event of Chinese attack.
He has also rebuked Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin for skipping the in-person climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP26.
In a surprise development, the U.S. and China released a joint statement Wednesday pledging to cooperate on efforts to curb global warming. While light on specifics, the pledge injected some optimism in the fight against climate change.
Source: The Hill