Biden to Meet with China’s Xi Amid Increasing Tensions Over Trade

President Joe Biden will sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, a meeting that comes amid increasing tensions with China over trade, the status of Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.

“What I want to do with him when we talk is to lay out what each of our red lines are … and to determine whether or not they conflict with one another,” Biden said Wednesday. “And if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out.”

The leaders will meet ahead of next week’s Group of 20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Laying out the president’s national security strategy last month, the administration said China and Russia pose the biggest challenge to international peace and stability. While Russia’s threat is immediate, China is the only competitor with the intent and ability to tilt the global playing field to its benefit, the White House said.

Biden has riled China with his promise to defend Taiwan militarily if China attacks the self-governing island.

While Biden and Xi have spoken five times since Biden took office, Monday’s meeting will be their first in-person conversation.

“I’ve told him: I’m looking for competition, not – not conflict,” Biden said Wednesday.

Biden is expected to raise China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups and concerns about China’s trade practices. They may also discuss areas where the two countries can work together.

What are the stakes?

  • Xi’s power: Xi cemented his status as one of the world’s most powerful leaders last month when members of the country’s ruling Communist Party gave him a third term as general secretary. In the last decade,, he’s centralized power and relentlessly cracked down on dissent. He has poured billions into international infrastructure projects and aggressively pursued island construction and militarization in the South China Sea.
  • Pelosi’s visit: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this summer dialed up the tension between the U.S. and China. Biden has multiple times said U.S. military forces would defend Taiwan if it’s attacked by China while also maintaining that the U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan has not changed.
  • Midterm elections: The meeting comes as Biden got a lift domestically from the midterm elections. Republicans may still end up with control of the House or Senate after all the votes are counting. But the “red tide” many had predicted, given high inflation and Biden’s low approval ratings, failed to materialize.
  • Competition: Even if Republicans do win control of Congress, China is one possible area of cooperation in a divided government. In July, Biden signed into law a sweeping bipartisan bill that aims to boost domestic manufacturing of computer chips and counter China’s edge in that sector.
  • Russia and China: While Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “no limits” relationship shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, China has not provided arms to Moscow. “I don’t think there’s a lot of respect that China has for Russia or Putin,” Biden said Wednesday. “And in fact, they’ve been sort of keeping the distance a little bit.”

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