High-stakes Encounter Between Biden and Xi Jinping Due

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After a closely followed summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month, Biden and his aides are aiming for a high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

According to White House officials, the two leaders could meet in the coming months, possibly around the time the Group of 20 summit takes place in Rome by October-end. Both Biden and Xi are expected to be present there. A separate meeting may also be on the cards if China consents, or else another phone call is likely. “It’s now just a question of when and how,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan stated. 

China has been interested in Biden’s approach. It is believed that after the summit between Biden and Putin at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Russia apprised China of what happened inside the talks. In fact, when Russia’s ambassador to the US arrived in Washington as part of an agreement made during the summit, one of his first stops was to debrief his Chinese counterpart. 

With the Biden-Putin meeting now in the past, White House aides shared that work towards setting up Biden’s encounter with Xi would be prioritized. The meeting could be beneficial in setting the course for the most significant foreign policy issue of Biden’s presidency. Both Biden and his aides believe that a direct meeting with Xi is crucial given his growing efforts to consolidate power in China. 

During an appearance at the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security in early June, Biden’s top adviser on Asia-Pacific issues, Kurt Campbell, stated that they increasingly believe that “part of what President Xi has done is taken steps to put him as the central leadership figure in China that makes almost all of the decisions.”

Matters between China and the Biden administration have been heated. And new questions regarding the origins of the coronavirus and China’s reluctance to allow an investigation into it have only aggravated the situation. 

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