The president of the United States, Joe Biden, and that of China, Xi Jinping, met while both were vice presidents of their countries. They got to see each other 67 times in person. But since Biden is president they have never seen each other face to face. The first occasion will be next Monday, November 14, in Bali (Indonesia), as announced on Thursday by the White House spokeswoman. The meeting comes in the midst of the rivalry between the two leading world powers with the added tension of Taiwan, where the visit of the president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, unleashed the wrath of Beijing.
Both leaders will have a bilateral meeting taking advantage of the G-20 summit. “The leaders will discuss efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, responsibly manage competition, and work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges affecting the international community. The two leaders will also discuss a number of regional and global issues,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a brief statement.
The relationship between the two powers has deteriorated not only because of their economic rivalry and the Taiwan issue, but also because in Washington it has felt very bad that China did not close ranks with the international community to oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he will not attend the G-20 meeting.
The meeting between the two was expected and this Thursday a date has been set and officially announced. Biden was asked this Wednesday at the press conference in which he commented on the results of the legislative elections for the meeting and assured that he was not “willing to make any fundamental concessions” regarding Taiwan.
“We have a lot of things to discuss,” Biden said, adding: “I’m looking for competition, not conflict.” “What I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what our red lines are, understand what he thinks are China’s critical national interests, what I know are America’s critical interests, and determine whether or not to enter in conflict. And if they do, how to solve it and how to fix it,” he explained.
When Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president, he accompanied Xi in the United States and vice versa. “I have met him many times,” she said, saying she has driven more than 17,000 miles (more than 27,000 kilometers) with him through China and the United States.
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Biden has had some interventions on Taiwan implying that the United States could intervene directly in the event of a military conflict, which have later been corrected and nuanced from the White House. On Wednesday, he said about it: “Taiwan’s doctrine hasn’t changed at all since the beginning. So I’m sure we’ll talk about Taiwan. And I am sure that we will discuss other issues, including fair trade and relations regarding its relationship with other countries in the region”.
The tension around Taiwan prompted China to suspend cooperation with the United States on key issues. Its ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, gave a press conference in Washington in August in which he maintained harsh and accusatory language, and assured that Pelosi’s visit had been “a political provocation” and called for an end to the menacephobia, seeing China permanently as a threat to the United States. “To resume [la relación habitual] I want the United States to think about its wrong behavior on Taiwan, to reflect on what the true one-China policy is, and to refrain from doing anything to escalate tensions,” he said.
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