Senior administration officials will make the call as part of a routine no-deliverable follow-up to a series of communications between Biden and Xi — they last spoke to each other in March and had a virtual meeting in November — which senior administration officials say must erect “safeguards” designed to ensure that competition “does not lead to conflict.”
But Biden’s main focus will be to ensure the latest outburst of Chinese rage over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan doesn’t derail talks for a long-awaited face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi. in November.
“I don’t think there can be any major developments following a phone call, except that both parties recognize the danger of a miscalculation…but there won’t be any major announcements before mid-term or [Communist] Party Congress,” said Craig Allen, chairman of the US-China Business Council.
Allen said the two sides were focused on a face-to-face between the leaders on the sidelines of the Nov. 12 G-20 in Bali or the Nov. 15 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Bangkok.
“They’ll have the opportunity to sit down with each other as human beings…maybe even have a meal,” Allen said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment while Chinese Embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu told POLITICO there was a “lack of information” regarding a possible in-person Biden- Xi in November. But Chinese experts say such a meeting offers Biden an invaluable opportunity to break a bilateral stalemate by leveraging the two leaders’ personal relationship cultivated while Biden was vice president.
“There are 1000 things that could go wrong and could go wrong [an in-person meeting] – there is no absolute certainty that Xi Jinping will leave and no absolute certainty that the Putin issue will not cause the G-20 to fail [meeting]said Danny Russel, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and vice president for international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “Where there is certainty is that the personal relationship that Biden and Xi built in 2011 and 2012 is one of the few things we have going for us in the relationship.”
An in-person meeting will allow Biden and Xi to have space for more meaningful discussions than their phone calls and video meeting over the past 19 months have provided.
“It’s certainly worth trying to reach out to Xi Jinping and shape his way of thinking about issues, especially as he enters his third five-year term,” said Bonnie Glaser, Asia program director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
But the immediate challenge for Biden and Xi this week is to manage the furious Chinese reaction to Pelosi’s Taiwan project. Chinese authorities have linked their response to reports of a possible visit by Pelosi with a vow to “take countermeasures” if the trip continues. Biden hinted last week that he had doubts about the trip and its potential risks which could include the Chinese imposition of a no-fly zone around the island to prevent Pelosi from landing.
“Perhaps the most solemn part of the call will be in Taiwan, but I don’t think that will derail the call, and I don’t think it will change the overall way these two leaders communicate,” he said. said Glaser. .
Any hint of a Biden compromise with Xi on any issue is likely to face GOP criticism ahead of November’s midterm elections. “Under no circumstances should President Biden waive tariffs, beg Beijing for refined oil, or praise Xi’s bogus climate pledges,” the senator said. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Instead, the president must make it clear that his administration will uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty, strictly enforce my Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law, and demand the release of all U.S. citizens detained in China.”
The two leaders will also discuss trade tensions related to Trump-era tariffs imposed on $370 billion in Chinese imports. Industry officials and former federal officials familiar with the administration’s plans say Biden is expected to lift tariffs this month on a segment of targeted imports worth about $10 billion. . He will put that on hold by announcing new investigations under Section 301 of the Commerce Act of 1974 targeting heavily subsidized sectors of the Chinese economy.
Xi is likely to push the narrative launched by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian this month that “lifting all additional tariffs on China is good for China and the United States.” and good for the world”.
China hawks want Biden to stay tough on tariffs. “I see it as an opportunity [for Xi] to probe for weakness and see if the Biden team is willing to give [concessions] — it just shows desperation,” said David R. Stilwell, former assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. “They want us to take our knee off their economic chest and let them get back to what they were doing.”
Biden will also likely use his call with Xi to raise the issue of American citizens in China who Washington says are being wrongfully detained or stranded in China due to exit bans imposed by Chinese authorities. Sullivan told Yang at a June 13 meeting that releasing Americans wrongfully detained or subject to exit bans is a “personal priority for himself and for the president.”
The Chinese response to this statement has not been optimistic. “We urge the United States to end this hypocritical and absurd performance and focus on correcting its own mistakes,” Liu, from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in a statement.
Liu’s statement suggests Biden faces the likely failure of a signature diplomatic policy initiative. Previous initiatives by the Biden administration for bilateral cooperation with Beijing have also failed. Administration officials revealed several such initiatives after Biden’s Nov. 15 virtual meeting, including closer collaboration on counternarcotics activities and bilateral talks regarding U.S. concerns about the rapid growth of the drug. Chinese nuclear arsenal.
Eight months later, progress on these issues is largely stalled due to China’s refusal to engage. Instead, the Chinese government is conditioning bilateral cooperation on the United States in response to four lists of demands to resolve what Chinese Foreign Minister Wang calls unspecified “outstanding issues” in the relationship.
That attitude has reinforced GOP skepticism about the usefulness of Biden’s upcoming call with Xi and prompted calls for a more hardline approach to U.S.-China relations generally.
“If the president had clear eyes on the CCP threat and had confidence in American strength, his objectives for the call would be obvious,” the rep said. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “He should reject the demand lists the CCP gave to Secretary Blinken this month, he should retract his embarrassing gaffe discouraging President Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and be clear that the United States will not deterred by the CCP’s belligerence.”