Biden, China's Xi to meet virtually Monday

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will virtually meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday evening as the two countries show some progress in working together to tackle climate change, despite persistent divisions on other key issues such as Taiwan.

The leaders have been on the phone since Biden took office, but Monday’s meeting will be the first time they have participated in a more formal bilateral meeting.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that “the two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage competition between the United States and the PRC and work together where our interests coincide.”

“President Biden will be clear about US intentions and priorities throughout and will be clear and frank about our concerns about the PRC,” she added.

Tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China’s treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, cybersecurity, as well as the Covid pandemic and trade have increased.

Beijing has sent dozens of fighter jets near Taiwan in the past few weeks, prompting the US to criticize China’s actions as “destabilizing”. Although the US does not officially recognize self-governing island democracy, it maintains close informal political and military ties with Taiwan. China claims Taiwan as its territory.

The ruling Communist Party a rare resolution adopted on Thursday, which will pave the way for Xi, 68, to secure an unprecedented third term over the next year and potentially rule China indefinitely. Xi is considered China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Psaki said the White House is not seeking “important outcomes or results” from Monday’s meeting, but will use the summit as an opportunity to continue its “intensive diplomacy” strategy with Beijing, which aligns with the competition.

Beijing-Washington relationship got off to a difficult start under the Biden administration after top US and Chinese diplomats met with a public explosion in front of reporters at a meeting in Alaska in March. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken criticized Beijing for its growing authoritarianism, while Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy official Yang Jiechi accused Washington of being a hypocrite on human rights.

China is supposed to host the Olympic Winter Games 2022 in Beijing.

Xi has not left China since the first outbreak of the Covid pandemic and did not attend the Group of 20 summit in Rome or the UN climate change conference in Scotland earlier this fall. Biden said it was “a big mistake” that Xi was not there in person.

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