The President of China, Xi Jinping, arrived in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday prior to a highly anticipated meeting with the US President Joe Biden.
The two leaders are expected to discuss their respective “red lines” in what has grown to be an increasingly tense relationship between the two global powers.
Biden and Xi will meet late on Monday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit. It will be their first face-to-face talks since the US president took office nearly two years ago.
Tensions between the US and China have flared up on multiple fronts in recent months, including over Taiwan and US restrictions on the supply of semiconductors to China.
The meeting takes place only days after Biden received a political lift at home when the Democrat Party performed better than anticipated in the US midterm elections, and three weeks after Xi was reappointed for a record-breaking third term as leader of the Chinese Communist Party.
Biden arrived first in Bali, a day before Xi did. He had been attending a round of summits hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
Last week, Biden told reporters that his focus for the meeting with Xi will be on “competition, not conflict,” but that he was also “not willing to make any fundamental concessions.”
US President Joseph Biden arrived last night in Bali on Air Force 1, greeted by Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno and Balinese dancers on his way to his motorcade. For security reasons POTUS and Chinese President Xi won’t be using the Genesis cars pic.twitter.com/NzIDW0SWio
— Nuice Media (@nuicemedia) November 14, 2022
“What I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what each of our red lines is and understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China,” Biden said, adding that if they clashed with U.S. interests, they would broach “how to work it out.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who stated on Sunday that “the United States is prepared for the intense rivalry with China but does not seek conflict,” reaffirmed this statement.
For his part, Xi is expected to reiterate his proposal of the “three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation and calls for establishing the right way forward for bilateral relations,” according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, responded that China would resolutely protect its sovereignty, security, and development interests” when questioned about the meeting with Biden at a news briefing over the weekend.
“It is important that the US work together with China to properly manage differences… avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, and bring China-US relations back to the right track,” Zhao said.
According to US officials, the two leaders’ meeting might last a few hours and be held with simultaneous translation. Late on Monday, Biden is scheduled to conduct a press conference.
A key topic of discussion will be the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has disrupted global food supplies and even stoked fears of nuclear conflict.
Despite the fact that relations between China and Russia and the United States have deteriorated, a senior US official claimed on Monday that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasised the “irresponsibility” of nuclear threats during the summit in Cambodia on Sunday.
Li “put a clear emphasis on sovereignty, on the irresponsibility of nuclear threats, the need to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used in the way that some have suggested,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.
“Undeniably, some discomfort in Beijing about what we’ve seen in terms of reckless rhetoric and conduct on the side of Russia,” the US official continued.
BREAKING: Joe Biden and Xi Jinping meet ahead of the G-20 summit in Bali, the first in-person talks between the leaders of the US and China since before the Covid-19 pandemic https://t.co/iHKU2XijYT pic.twitter.com/WcIc08rqSF
— Bloomberg (@business) November 14, 2022
Chinese state media have not reported on Li’s comments in Cambodia.
Before meeting between Xi and Biden on Monday, the US president met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who has recently assumed the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN and is hosting the G-20 summit in Bali.
Biden referred to the US and Indonesia as “two of the largest democracies in the world.” He announced a $700 million aid package for infrastructure in Indonesia and said a new clean energy initiative would be unveiled on Tuesday.
Biden’s trip to Asia is part of a broader effort to signal a stronger commitment to Southeast Asia, where Indonesia is the largest power and where the US and China vie for influence.
The US president will head back to Washington after the G20 while Vice President Kamala Harris takes his place at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, better known as APEC, in Thailand between 16th-19th November.