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Biden wants to talk about Taiwan, Russia and trade with China’s Xi

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he plans to discuss growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, trade policy and Beijing’s relationship with Russia during an expected meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The White House has said it is working with Chinese officials to arrange a meeting between Biden and Xi on the sidelines of next week’s Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, but the two sides have not confirmed the meeting will take place. take place.

Biden told reporters at a White House news conference that he had a lot to discuss with Xi as US-China relations have been fraught in recent months.

“What I want to do with him when we talk is explain what each of our red lines is and understand what he believes is in China’s critical national interests, what I know as the United States’ critical interests,” Biden said. . “And determine whether or not they conflict with each other.”

Xi’s government has criticized the Biden administration’s stance on Taiwan — which Beijing appears to eventually unite with the communist mainland — as undermining China’s territorial integrity. The Chinese president has also suggested that Washington wants to quell Beijing’s growing influence as it tries to overtake the US as the world’s No. 1 economy.

Tensions over Taiwan have increased since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August.

Biden said he is “unwilling to make fundamental concessions” about the United States’ Taiwanese doctrine.

Under its ‘One China’ policy, the United States recognizes the government in Beijing while allowing informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. It takes a position of “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan’s defense, leaving it open whether it would respond militarily if the island were attacked.

Biden caused a stir in Tokyo in May when he answered “yes” to a question at a news conference about his willingness to militarily defend Taiwan against a possible Chinese invasion. The White House and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin were quick to make it clear that there was no change in US policy.

Beijing sees official US contact with Taiwan as an encouragement to make the island’s decades-old de facto independence permanent, a move US leaders say they do not support. Pelosi is the most senior elected US official to visit since that time, speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

The expected Biden-Xi meeting would be the first between the leaders of the world’s largest economies since Biden became president in January 2021.

The two traveled together in the US and China in 2011 and 2012 when they were their country’s vice presidents, and they have made five phone or video calls since Biden became president.

But the relationship between the US and China has become much more complicated since those introductory talks in Washington and on the Tibetan plateau a decade ago.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is inspecting a joint operations command center at an undisclosed location on Tuesday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is inspecting a joint operations command center at an undisclosed location on Tuesday.Li Gang / Xinhua via AP

As president, Biden has repeatedly accused China of human rights violations against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities. He has denounced Beijing for its crackdown on democratic activists in Hong Kong, coercive trade practices, military provocations against Taiwan and disagreements over Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Weeks before Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president met with Xi in Beijing and the two issued a memorandum expressing hopes for a “no borders” relationship for their nations.

China has largely refrained from criticizing the Russian war, but has also refrained from supplying arms to Moscow.

“I don’t think China has much respect for Russia or Putin,” Biden said. “And actually they’ve kept their distance a little bit.”

On another issue, White House officials have expressed frustration at Beijing’s failure to use its influence to pressure North Korea to withdraw from conducting provocative missile tests and abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Xi has stayed close to home during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

He made his first trip outside of China since the start of the pandemic in September with a stop in Kazakhstan and then Uzbekistan to join Putin and other Central Asian security group leaders in the eight-country Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Xi was given a norm-breaking third five-year term as leader of the Chinese Communist Party at the party’s national congress last month.

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