WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping will hold their much-anticipated virtual summit Monday night as the two sides try to reverse tensions following a rocky start to US-China relations after Biden took office earlier this year.
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The White House has low expectations for the video call between the leaders. Biden seems to be emphasizing that the two nations need to place guardrails in deepening conflict zones in the increasingly complicated relationship between the two nations.
White House officials said no major announcements from the meeting are expected.
“I wouldn’t create the expectation…that this is meant to have significant results or outcomes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the two leaders would discuss how to manage the countries’ competition. and will cooperate in areas where interests align.
The meeting will be the third meeting between the two leaders since February.
It comes after the US and China pledged this week at UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, to step up cooperation and accelerate action to curb climate-damaging emissions.
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White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi agreed to hold the virtual Biden-Xi summit by the end of the year when they met for talks in Zurich last month, but the two parties had not agreed on a date .
The virtual meeting was suggested after Biden, who spent a significant amount of time with Xi when the two were vice presidents, said during a September phone call with the Chinese leader that he would like to see Xi again, according to the White House.
Xi has not left China during the coronavirus pandemic. White House officials suggested a virtual summit as the best available replacement for the two leaders to have a substantive conversation about a number of issues that have strained US-China relations.
“We hope that the US will work with China to jointly strive to make the Leaders’ Summit a success and put China-US ties back on track for healthy and stable development,” said Wang Wenbin, the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There has been no lack of tension in the relationship in recent months, as Biden has made it clear that he finds Beijing’s actions worrying on a number of fronts.
The president has criticized China for human rights violations against ethnic minorities in northwestern China, suppressing pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong and resisting global pressure to fully cooperate with investigations into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic . Tensions have also recently been exacerbated by dozens of flights by the Chinese army near the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
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The White House suggested Biden raise concerns about many of those issues during Monday’s meeting. “A wide range of topics will be discussed and the president will certainly not hold back on areas that concern him,” Psaki said.
At the Group of 20 meeting in Rome and again at the UN climate meeting, Biden criticized Xi for failing to show up at the summits, where world leaders discussed the way forward on the pandemic and steps to reduce the impact of climate change.
“I think it was a big mistake, frankly, that China didn’t show up,” Biden said in Glasgow. “The rest of the world is going to look at China and say: what added value have they provided?”
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Both leaders took part in the virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting on Friday, where leaders discussed efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic and support the global economic recovery.