Biden and China’s Xi Will Hold Virtual Summit on Monday
WASHINGTON — President Biden will hold a virtual summit with President Xi Jinping of China on Monday as the leaders of the world’s two largest economies confront tensions over trade, cyberthreats, the climate, Taiwan and human rights.
The summit, which was announced by the White House on Friday, has been in the works since early October, when Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, held a six-hour meeting with Yang Jiechi, Beijing’s top diplomat.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi would have a video call on Monday evening.
“The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the P.R.C., as well as ways to work together where our interests align,” Ms. Psaki said, using the abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China. “Throughout, President Biden will make clear U.S. intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns with the P.R.C.”
Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi spoke by phone on Sept. 9, but the two leaders have not met in person since Mr. Biden’s inauguration. The Chinese leader has not left his country for nearly two years, out of concern with the coronavirus pandemic.
China has been at the forefront of the Biden administration’s foreign policy.
Senior American officials said on Friday that Mr. Biden had focused efforts on ensuring that the United States could compete with China over the long run. They pointed to the passage this month of the bipartisan infrastructure bill as evidence that the administration was serious about not falling behind.
Ms. Psaki said during her daily briefing for reporters at the White House that the plan to hold the summit was a reflection of the president’s belief that the United States and China must continue to engage each other, even as they compete on the world stage economically.
“We, of course, believe in intense competition,” she said. “We believe and understand intense competition as part of that relationship. We also believe that that requires intense diplomacy.”
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the diplomatic conversations, said the president would make clear that the United States was ready to engage in stiff competition, but did not want open conflict with China and was eager to cooperate in areas where the two countries’ interests aligned.
Those areas are likely to include discussions of efforts to limit nuclear proliferation and counter global warming.
But the meeting between Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi could also be tense, as the two leaders deal with more contentious issues, including China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, Chinese hacking of corporate and government computer systems in the United States, human rights violations by the Chinese government, and the ongoing conflict between China and Taiwan.
Trade issues are also likely to be on the agenda, given that a deadline is approaching at the end of the year for China to purchase an additional $200 billion of American products under a 2019 trade deal.
According to tracking by Chad P. Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, China is on pace to fall roughly 40 percent short of that promise. American officials have been pressing their Chinese counterparts to close the gap on promised purchases of U.S. energy, agricultural products and medical devices, as well as Boeing airplanes. They are also pushing them to improve in other areas where China has fallen short of its trade deal commitments, like respecting intellectual property provisions.
The trade deal, signed by President Donald J. Trump in January of last year, left tariffs in place on the bulk of products traded between China and the United States each year. While the business community has been pushing to reduce the tariffs, Myron Brilliant, an executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said such a breakthrough did not appear likely on Monday night, though officials might make progress on issues like easing visa restrictions, creating a weapons dialogue or encouraging China to purchase more American exports.
“The political constraints on both sides mean our expectations should be somewhat modest for this call,” Mr. Brilliant said. “A win right now is an agreement on both sides to reduce the tensions in the relationship.”
The two leaders are also expected to discuss the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are being held in Beijing. It is not clear whether Mr. Xi will invite the president to attend the Olympics.
Ms. Psaki declined to say whether Mr. Biden would attend if he was invited.
American officials said they did not expect the meeting to produce announcements of specific agreements between the two countries.
Ana Swanson contributed reporting.