WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden is expected to hold a hotly awaited virtual summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday, US media reported, as tensions mount over Taiwan, human rights and trade.
Both CNN and Politico, citing unnamed sources, said the meeting was tentatively scheduled for Monday.
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.
Washington has repeatedly signalled 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.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the two presidents, who have not met in person since Biden took office in January, will hold virtual talks “soon.”
Asked about the meeting at a press briefing on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry said the two heads of state had “agreed to maintain frequent contact through multiple means.”
“At present, China and the US are in close communication over the specific arrangement for the leaders’ summit,” said ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
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 travelled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and instead agreed to virtual talks by the end of the year.
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 hosted by New Zealand.
“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.”