US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were expected to hold a virtual summit on Monday, sources told Reuters on Thursday, amid tensions over trade, human rights and military activities.
Washington and Beijing have been sparring on issues from the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. US officials believe direct engagement with Xi is the best way to prevent the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies from spiraling toward conflict.
The White House declined to comment.
A potential request from Xi for Biden to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing could put the US president in an uncomfortable spot as he presses China on human rights.
Biden and Xi last spoke on Sept. 9, a 90-minute conversation that a senior US official said focused on economic issues, climate change and COIVD-19.
On Wednesday, the two countries unveiled a framework deal at the UN climate conference in Scotland aimed at boosting cooperation to tackle climate change.
The latest Biden-Xi virtual meeting was agreed to in principle last month during talks in Zurich between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi. The White House said Sullivan raised concerns about Chinese actions in the South China Sea, as well as human rights and Beijing’s stances on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan.