WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will meet virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday evening, as the two countries show some signs of progress on working together to address climate change despite continued divisions on other key issues such as Taiwan.
The leaders have spoken on the phone since Biden took office, but Monday’s meeting will be the first time they are engaging 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 the competition between the United States and the PRC, as well as ways to work together where our interests align.”
“Throughout, President Biden will make clear U.S. intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns with the PRC,” she added.
Tensions have been rising between the U.S. 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.
Beijing has sent dozens of warplanes near Taiwan in recent weeks, leading the U.S. to criticize China’s actions as “destabilizing.” While the U.S does not formally recognize the self-ruling island democracy, it maintains strong informal political and military relations with Taiwan. China claims Taiwan as its territory.
The ruling Communist Party adopted a rare resolution on Thursday that will pave the way for Xi, 68, to secure an unprecedented third term in office next year, and potentially rule China indefinitely. Xi is seen as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
The relationship between Beijing and Washington had a difficult start under the Biden administration after top diplomats from the U.S. and China had a public blowup in front of reporters during a meeting in Alaska in March. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Beijing for its increasing authoritarianism, while Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi accused Washington of being hypocrites on human rights.
China is scheduled to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Xi has not left China since the Covid pandemic first hit and did not attend the Group of 20 summit in Rome or the U.N. climate conference in Scotland earlier this fall. Biden said it was “a big mistake” for Xi to not attend in-person.