President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet in an upcoming meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in the Gulf region on Wednesday – a meeting that officials hope will ease tensions amid the wars raging in Israel. And Ukraine.
A senior administration official said the meeting is scheduled to take place in San Francisco and will serve as a framework for “intensive diplomacy.”
The White House says Biden and Xi are expected to discuss the US-China relationship, including the importance of maintaining “open lines of communication.”
Biden-XI meeting to be forum for ‘intense diplomacy’ amid US-China tensions: officials
A senior administration official said the two leaders will also discuss “responsibly managing the competition” along with a range of regional, global and transnational issues, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the war between Israel and Hamas, and growing conflicts in the Middle East.
“There will be a conversation on North Korea about some of our concerns regarding the relationship with Russia in Ukraine,” a senior official said. “I think that with respect to the Middle East, I think the president will emphasize our desire for China to make clear in its burgeoning relationship with Iran that it is imperative that Iran not seek to escalate or spread violence in the Middle East, and that we warn very clearly that if Iran undertakes provocative actions at any Place, the United States is prepared to respond and respond quickly.
The two are also expected to discuss additional “potentially controversial” topics, including election interference, with Biden planning to warn Xi about potential election influence operations.
The meeting this week will be the second in-person meeting between Biden and Xi since the beginning of the Biden administration in January 2021, but it will be the “seventh interaction,” the official said.
Biden and Xi last met in November 2022 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, where they agreed that more direct communication between US and Chinese leadership was desirable.
“Both leaders have a long-standing relationship that began when they were vice presidents,” the official said. “They’ve known each other for nearly twelve years.”
The officials said that the Biden administration has worked over the past eight months to “restore diplomatic interaction.” During that period, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Director Wang Yi three times; Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo traveled to Beijing; China sent its vice president, foreign minister and other senior officials to the United States for meetings.
When will officials confirm the date and location of Biden’s meeting in the United States with the 11th Chinese president?
“Over the past nearly three years, the administration has surveyed the strategic landscape, assessed the challenge and taken a series of purposeful strategic steps at home and abroad in a diplomatic context that we believe is sustainable,” the official said.
But the meeting between Biden and Xi on Wednesday comes at a critical time, one that Biden administration officials say is ripe for “high-level diplomacy.”
The Biden administration says its approach is “steady and consistent.”
A senior official said: “We are not retreating from our interests and values. Rather, we are moving forward in achieving them,” noting that they are “clear about this matter.”
“We also believe that intense competition requires and requires intense diplomacy to manage tensions and prevent competition from turning into conflict or confrontation,” one of the officials said. “We expect China to exist and be a major player on the world stage for the rest of our lives.”
Senior Biden administration officials say the meeting is consistent with the United States’ “decades of experience” in talking to competitors and “working with them when our interests require it.”
“This meeting with President Xi is in keeping with this tradition of American statecraft,” one official said. “And at this meeting, I think you can expect us to build on that experience as we work to stabilize the relationship and deliver in material, tangible ways to the American people.”
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One official said the goal of the meeting was not to return with “accomplishments” but to ensure that the administration “manages competition, prevents negative risks of conflict, and ensures that channels of communication are open.”
One critical line of discussion will be about open lines of communication between US and Chinese military channels — especially in light of a Chinese surveillance balloon that crossed the continental United States in February, officials said.
“This is critical. When we talk about risk management, about conflict avoidance, this is exactly the kind of communication we need, both at the senior levels of our militaries but also from operator to operator,” the official added. He said. “The balloon often comes up in the context of the need for communications between the two sides. I think the balloon incident highlighted the difficulty we faced at the time in being able to establish high-level, influential communications with Beijing.”
“We have presented this issue consistently and consistently,” the official continued. “I think you can expect the president to raise the broad parameters for a ‘million to million’ engagement with President Xi next week.”
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The official said that Biden and administration officials raised this issue in “every meeting.”
“I think it’s fair to say that the Chinese have been hesitant. So the president will push hard next week,” the official said.