President BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE and Chinese President Xi Jinping will speak virtually on Monday evening, marking the first bilateral meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office.
The high-stakes meeting is likely to cover a range of topics including tensions over China’s military activity near Taiwan and human rights, as well as cooperation on climate change. The announcement came after the U.S. and China reached an agreement on a joint statement on the need to tackle climate change at a United Nations summit in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this week.
“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,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBriefing in brief: WH counters GOP attacks on planned SCOTUS pick The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems ready for Supreme Court lifeline Biden to deliver remarks with Breyer at the White House on Thursday MORE said in a statement Friday announcing the meeting. “Throughout, President Biden will make clear U.S. intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns with the PRC.”
Officials had been working for several weeks to schedule the meeting after an agreement in principle was reached in October for Biden and Xi to meet virtually sometime before the end of this year.
During a press briefing later Friday, Psaki said the meeting is a “continuation of the intensive diplomacy” the Biden administration has undertaken with respect to China over the previous 10 months. She said that specific deliverables were not expected out of the summit.
The meeting will put to the test Biden’s approach of trying to work with China on areas of potential compromise, like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, while raising objections to China’s behavior on human rights, its trade practices and its military activity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this month in Glasgow, Biden said he wanted to make it clear that the U.S. is seeking “competition” but not “conflict” with China.
“I want to make sure there's no misunderstanding. It's competition, not conflict,” Biden said.
Tensions between the U.S. and China ran high during the Trump administration and have persisted under Biden due to disagreements on several fronts. The first high-level meeting between Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Inside Austin's civilian harm directive North Korea sparks US condemnation with latest missile launch Republicans again call for Oversight hearing on Afghanistan withdrawal MORE, Biden’s national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanOvernight Defense & National Security — Inside Austin's civilian harm directive Republicans again call for Oversight hearing on Afghanistan withdrawal Biden's first year: A mirage of gender parity MORE and their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage was memorably tense and raised questions about the way forward.
Biden and Xi have spoken twice by phone, the most recent conversation in September taking place for 90 minutes and covering a wide array of subjects.
In the time since, Biden has publicly vowed to protect Taiwan in the event of Chinese attack.
He has also rebuked Xi and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinYes, the US can legally intervene if Russia invades Ukraine Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens U.S. prestige China warns US to 'stop interfering' in Olympics MORE for skipping the in-person climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP26.
“The single most important thing that’s gotten the attention of the world is climate, everywhere,” Biden said at the press conference earlier this month. “It just is a gigantic issue, and they’ve walked away. How do you do that and claim to have any leadership mantle?”
In a surprise development, the U.S. and China released a joint statement Wednesday pledging to cooperate on efforts to curb global warming. While light on specifics, the pledge injected some optimism in the fight against climate change.
Updated at 2:37 p.m.