Washington: US President Joe Biden will hold a hotly anticipated virtual summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday, the White House and China announced, as tensions mount over Taiwan, human rights and trade.
Relations between the world's two largest economies have recently deteriorated, in particular over Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy claimed by China, which last month made a record number of air incursions near the island.
Washington has repeatedly signaled its support for Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression, but the United States and China reached a surprise agreement on climate at a summit in Glasgow.
"The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition" between the two countries "as well as ways to work together where our interests align," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Friday."Throughout, President Biden will make clear US intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns with the PRC," Psaki said, referring to Beijing by the acronym for the People's Republic of China.
The virtual talks will take place "in the evening" on Monday in Washington -- meaning early Tuesday in Beijing, she announced. In China, the official Xinhua news agency confirmed the meeting in a one-line dispatch.
Biden and Xi have talked by phone twice since the veteran Democrat moved into the White House. The pair also met extensively when Biden was serving as vice president to Barack Obama, and Xi was vice president to Hu Jintao. Biden had hoped to meet Xi at a recent Group of 20 summit in Rome, but the Chinese leader has not traveled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and instead agreed to virtual talks by the end of the year. Both men participated in the APEC virtual summit overnight that was hosted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
"I've noted repeatedly, over the past 10 months, that the relationship with China is among the most consequential and also most complex that we have," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.
"It has different elements in it -- some cooperative, some competitive and others adversarial and we will manage all three at the same time." Psaki told reporters: "The president is certainly not going to hold back on areas where he has concern.
She also said that the "intense competition" in the bilateral relationship required "intense diplomacy." Psaki said "specific deliverables" were unlikely to emerge from Monday's talks; Washington instead sees the meeting as a way of "setting the terms, in our view, of an effective competition."
The US president has largely kept the tougher approach on Beijing of his predecessor Donald Trump, with both administrations considering a rising China to be the top challenge of the 21st century.