Biden to speak with Xi Jinping on Friday
President Biden is scheduled to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, the White House said, as the U.S. steps up warnings to China against aiding Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”
News of the meeting comes days after Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, held a lengthy meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Rome, during which he said Beijing would face consequences if it helped Russia financially or militarily, according to administration officials.
Biden and Xi last spoke during a wide-ranging virtual meeting in November, months before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is said to have asked for military assistance from China to aid the invasion.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters later Thursday the U.S. is concerned China is considering directly assisting Russia and that Biden would make clear in his call with Xi that China will face costs if it chooses to do so.
“We believe China in particular has a responsibility to use its influence with President Putin and to defend the international rules and principles that it professes to support,” Blinken said. “Instead, it appears that China is moving in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression while seeking to portray itself as a neutral arbiter.”
Administration officials described the face-to-face meeting between Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, on Monday as intense and candid and indicated it addressed a range of issues but spent a great deal of time on Ukraine.
“We do have deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia at this time, and the national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions,” a senior administration official told reporters earlier this week following the meeting.
China and Russia have deepened their ties in recent years, culminating in Xi and Putin releasing a statement just before the invasion that declared the China-Russia relationship had “no limits.”
China has tried to appear neutral in the Ukraine conflict so far, but U.S. officials have raised alarm about China’s ties to Russia and have accused Beijing of spreading Russian disinformation about the U.S. backing bioweapons labs in Ukraine.
Psaki said earlier this week that China would face “significant consequences” if it provides Russia with military or other support that “violates sanctions or supports the war efforts.” She did not offer specifics on what those penalties would look like, saying they would be coordinated with allies.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also recently warned that the U.S. would penalize Chinese firms that violate U.S. export controls imposed on Russia by preventing them from using American software.
Updated at 2:34 p.m.