G-20 News

Xi Jinping eyes first in-person summit with Biden in November in Asia (WSJ)

Chinese officials are preparing for President Xi Jinping’s first face-to-face summit with his American counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of meetings to be held in Southeast Asia in November, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people close to the preparations. .

The report emerged as tensions between the two countries escalate over Taiwan following the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-governing island earlier this month. . It was the first such visit by a Speaker of the House in 25 years, with Pelosi aiming to show support for Taiwan, which Beijing considers its own.

U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on November 15, 2021 in Washington. (Getty/Kyodo)

White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell told reporters the same day that Biden and Xi had discussed a possible in-person meeting during their recent call, but added: “We don’t nothing more in terms of time or location details.”

He also indicated that the situation in Taiwan will remain a source of concern for the United States, warning that China is using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to “launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan” which should “continue to unfold in the coming weeks”. and months.”

“The objective of this campaign is clear: to intimidate and coerce Taiwan and undermine its resilience,” the official said.

Viewing Pelosi’s visit as an act that undermines its sovereignty, China has been furious with the move, responding by staging large-scale military exercises in areas surrounding Taiwan and cutting off some trade with the island. He also halted talks with Washington on climate change and suspended communication with US military commanders.

Campbell added that the United States intends to keep lines of communication with China open and urged Beijing to behave as a “responsible power” by reopening the channels it has closed.

If Xi visits Southeast Asia in November, it would be his first international trip in nearly three years amid the coronavirus pandemic. The trip is expected to come after a two-decade Communist Party congress slated for the fall, when Xi is seeking an unusual third term as leader.

He will likely attend a two-day summit of the leaders of the Group of 20 economies on the Indonesian island of Bali from November 15, then travel to Bangkok to attend the summit of the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation forum two days later. , the newspaper said. .

While preparations are still in their early stages and could be changed, a meeting between Xi and Biden is possible on the sidelines of one of the two summits, according to the report.

Last month, the two leaders had their fifth call since Biden took office in January last year.

While cautioning against what they see as destabilizing acts regarding Taiwan, they also discussed the value of meeting face to face and agreed that their teams would follow each other to find “a mutually agreeable time for the do,” a senior US administration official said. at the time.

Since then, tensions over Taiwan have escalated further as Pelosi continues her trip to the island, which was postponed earlier this year after testing positive for COVID-19.

Campbell said on Friday that Beijing had “overreacted” to the trip, citing its launching of missiles in the waters around Taiwan, its military planes and ships crossing the median line between China and Taiwan, and the surrounding area of ​​the island. with more than a dozen warships.

“Even today, several warships remain around Taiwan,” he said.

The United States will continue to take “calm and resolute steps” to maintain peace and stability in the region in the face of Beijing’s continued efforts to undermine it, and will support Taiwan in accordance with longstanding US policy, the official said. .

As the United States continues to deepen ties with Taiwan, the two economies are developing an “ambitious roadmap for trade negotiations” expected to be announced in the coming days, Campbell said.