Biden, Xi expected to hold virtual summit on Monday

Nov 12, 2021: US President Joe Biden is expected to hold a much-awaited virtual summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday, with US media reporting that tensions are rising over Taiwan, human rights and trade.

CNN and Politico, citing unnamed sources, said the meeting was temporarily scheduled for Monday.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have deteriorated in recent weeks, especially over Taiwan, which China claims as an independent democracy, having carried out a record number of airstrikes near the island last month.

Washington has repeatedly signaled its support for Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression, but the United States and China reached a surprise agreement on climate change at a summit in Glasgow.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this week that the two presidents, who have not met in person since Biden took office in January, would hold virtual talks “soon”. Asked about the meeting at a press briefing on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the two heads of state had “agreed to maintain constant contact through various channels”.

At present, China and the United States are in close contact on specific arrangements for the summit, “said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the ministry.

Biden and Xi have spoken twice on the phone since the veteran Democrat moved into the White House. The pair also made headlines when Biden served as Barack Obama’s vice president, and Xi Hu Jintao as vice president. Biden had hoped to meet Xi at the recent Group of 20 summit in Rome, but the Chinese leader has not traveled since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and will instead hold virtual talks until the end of the year. 

The US president has largely taken a hard line on his predecessor Donald Trump’s Beijing, with both administrations viewing emerging China as the biggest challenge of the 21st century.

On Thursday, Xi warned against the return of Cold War-era divisions in Asia-Pacific, in remarks to a virtual business conference on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit hosted by New Zealand.

“Efforts to draw ideological lines or create small circles on geopolitical grounds will fail,” he said. “The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not rejoin the Cold War-era conflict and division.”

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