By Katie Rogers
President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping of China will meet Monday before the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, an encounter that Biden and his advisers said would be focused on setting expectations with the Chinese as tensions continue to rise over matters such as Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting, the first in person between the two since Biden took office, will be held after the president attends a climate conference in Egypt and makes another stop in Cambodia this week. In Cambodia, he plans to speak with leaders of Southeast Asian countries as part of a larger effort to shore up relationships that could help counter China’s influence in the region.
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters in a briefing Thursday that Biden “will get to sit in the same room with Xi Jinping, be direct and straightforward with him as he always is, and expect the same in return from Xi.”
A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also reinforced the president’s position, delivered during a news conference Wednesday, that he would make no “fundamental concessions” over U.S. support for Taiwan. China insists that Taiwan is part of its territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation.
Biden and Xi are also expected to discuss trade, human rights and North Korea.
Setting a meeting gives Biden, a politician who believes in the power of face-to-face encounters, a chance to reestablish boundaries with a leader whom he treats more as a Cold War-era enemy than a skeptical competitor he once knew. Since the two first met, when they were both vice presidents over a decade ago, Xi has tightened his grip on power domestically and become more confrontational as a global adversary, even as he was more physically isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden said during a news conference Wednesday that he wanted to draw “red lines” in the working relationship with China, evaluate the critical interests of the United States and “determine whether or not they conflict with one another. And if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out.”