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Biden, Xi to hold virtual summit on Monday: White House

Published: Updated:

US President Joe Biden will hold a hotly anticipated virtual summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday, the White House announced, as tensions mount over Taiwan, human rights and trade.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have deteriorated in recent weeks, in particular over Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy claimed by China, which last month made a record number of air incursions near the island.

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Washington has repeatedly signaled its support for Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression, but the United States and China reached a surprise agreement on climate at a summit in Glasgow.

“The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition” between the two countries “as well as ways to work together where our interests align,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Friday.

“Throughout, President Biden will make clear US intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns with the PRC,” Psaki said, referring to Beijing by the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

The virtual talks will take place “in the evening” on Monday in Washington -- meaning early Tuesday in Beijing, she announced.

Biden and Xi have talked by phone twice since the veteran Democrat moved into the White House. The pair also met extensively when Biden was serving as vice president to Barack Obama, and Xi was vice president to Hu Jintao.

Biden had hoped to meet Xi at a recent Group of 20 summit in Rome, but the Chinese leader has not traveled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and instead agreed to virtual talks by the end of the year.

Both men participated in the APEC summit overnight that was hosted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The US president has largely kept the tougher approach on Beijing of his predecessor Donald Trump, with both administrations considering a rising China to be the top challenge of the 21st century.

On Thursday, Xi warned against a return to Cold War-era divisions in the Asia-Pacific, in remarks to a virtual business conference on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

“Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds are bound to fail,” he said.

“The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era.”

One issue that could come up in Monday’s talks is the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing -- CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources, that Xi was expected to extend a personal invitation to Biden to attend.

Read more: Ahead of China talks, US says goal to prevent Taiwan invasion