NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — President Joe Biden will sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday for their first in-person meeting since the US president took office nearly two years ago, amid rising tensions between the two superpowers as they rival each other. global impact.
The two men come to the upcoming meeting – which took place on the sidelines of the G-20 summit of world leaders in Indonesia – with a strengthening of the political position at home. Democrats triumphantly retained control of the Senate, with a chance to bolster their ranks by one in a runoff in Georgia next month, while Xi was handed a third five-year term in October by the Community Party National Convention, a term that has expired. with traditions.
“We have little misunderstanding,” Biden told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he participated in a gathering of Southeast Asian countries before leaving for Indonesia. “We just have to figure out where the red lines are and… what are the most important things for each of us over the next couple of years.”
“His circumstances have changed, to state the obvious, at home,” Biden added. “I know I’m coming stronger,” the president said of his situation.
White House aides have repeatedly sought to downplay any notion of conflict between the two countries and emphasized that they believe the two countries can work together on common challenges such as climate change and health security.
But relations between the United States and China have become increasingly tense during a Biden presidency.
Before leaving Washington, Biden said he intended to pick up differences with Xi over their approach to the autonomous island of Taiwan, trade practices and China’s relationship with Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine nearly nine months ago. Chinese officials have largely refrained from public criticism of the Russian war, though Beijing has avoided direct support such as arms supplies.
Taiwan has emerged as one of the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing. Biden has said several times in his presidency that the United States would defend the island — which China is looking to eventually unite — in the event of a Beijing-led invasion. But administration officials stressed each time that the US position on the “strategic ambiguity” towards the island has not changed.
Tensions flared further when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan in August, prompting China to respond with military exercises and firing ballistic missiles into nearby waters.
The Biden administration also blocked the export of advanced computer chips to China last month – a move designed to boost US competition against Beijing, which was quickly condemned by Chinese officials.
And although the two men have had five phone or video calls during Biden’s presidency, White House officials say these encounters are no substitute for Biden’s ability to meet Xi and his size in person. This task becomes even more important after Xi consolidates his grip on power through the party congress, leaving US officials to seek direct communication with Xi because lower-level officials have been unable or unwilling to speak for the Chinese president.
White House officials and their Chinese counterparts spent weeks negotiating all the details of the meeting, which is taking place at Xi’s hotel with translators providing simultaneous interpretation through headphones.
Both Biden and Xi plan to bring small delegations to the discussion, with US officials expecting Xi to bring newly promoted government officials to the meeting and expressing hope that this will lead to more substantive engagements in the future.
Before meeting Xi, Biden held his first meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is hosting the G-20 summit, to announce a raft of new development initiatives for the archipelago nation, including investments in climate, security and education.
Many of Biden’s conversations and engagements during his three-country tour — which took him to Egypt and Cambodia before landing in Bali on Sunday — were, by design, preparing for his meeting with Xi and sending a signal to the United States. It will compete in areas where Xi has also worked to expand his country’s influence.
In Phnom Penh, Biden sought to assert US influence and commitment in a region where China has also had inroads and where many countries feel aligned with Beijing. He also sought input on what to raise with Xi in talks with leaders from Japan, South Korea and Australia.
The two men have a history dating back to the Biden era as vice president, when he embarked on a mission to get to know you with Xi, then Chinese vice president, on the travels that brought Xi to Washington and Biden through his travels in Tibet. plateau. The US president emphasized that he knows Xi well and wants to use this personal meeting to better understand the two men’s position.
Biden has been fond of including references to his conversations with Xi in his trips around the United States ahead of the midterm elections, using the Chinese leader’s preference for authoritarian rule to make his case to voters why democracy must prevail. That view has been somewhat validated on the world stage, with White House aides saying that several world leaders reached out to Biden during his time in Cambodia to tell him that they had watched the results of the midterm elections closely and that the results were a victory for democracy.
Biden plans to make public statements and take questions from reporters after his meeting with Xi.
Associated Press Washington writer Josh Boak contributed.
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