Biden, Xi will meet virtually on Monday, White House confirms

Meeting between US, Chinese presidents being held days after countries agree to cooperate on combatting climate change.

US President Joe Biden will meet virtually with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday, the White House has announced, as the leaders seek to address points of tensions, competition and potential cooperation between the two nations.

In a statement on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden and Xi would meet on Monday evening to “discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition” between the countries “as well as ways to work together where our interests align”.

“Throughout, President Biden will make clear US intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns” with China, Psaki said.

The meeting comes after China and the US – the world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide – agreed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow to cooperate on combatting climate change.

The deal announced on Wednesday calls for “enhanced climate action in the 2020s” using the 2015 Paris climate deal’s guidelines and “concrete and pragmatic” regulations in decarbonisation, reducing methane emissions and fighting deforestation.

Tensions between China and the US have soared in recent years, with Washington raising concerns about Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea as well as its stance on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

Amid the friction, the two sides began talks to improve communications and in October, officials announced that Xi and Biden would hold a virtual meeting before the end of the year.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington, DC, said the two leaders on Monday are expected to discuss a range of issues, including COVID-19, climate change, nuclear weapons, and Chinese military technology.

“They’ve got a lot to cover. Will they be able to do it in one day? Probably not,” Fisher said. “But if they can show some sort of cooperation on things like exports and visa controls, then they will regard this as a success.”

In a recorded video message to a CEO forum on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Xi said on Thursday that attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds were bound to fail in the region.

“The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era,” he said.

The comment was seen as a reference to efforts by the US and its regional allies to blunt what they see as China’s growing coercive economic and military influence.

Biden hosted the leaders of Japan, India and Australia at the White House in September for the first in-person meeting of the Quad, as the grouping of four countries is known.

In meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R), US President Joe Biden will be ‘clear and candid’ about Washington’s concerns with Beijing, White House says [File: Alex Brandon, Eraldo Peres/AP Photo]

Following the summit, the countries pledged to pursue a free and open Indo-Pacific region “undaunted by coercion”, presenting a united front amid shared concerns about China. The Chinese government has criticised the group as “doomed to fail”.


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