Beijing backtracks on scheduled Biden-Xi meeting at G20


But recent U.S. actions on these same issues — from President Biden’s recent promise of U.S. military defense of Taiwan should China invade, to export controls on semiconductors needed for next-generation weapons systems — put China angry to the point where it is considering backup on.

« Normally, when you have a presidential record, you start working out the agenda quite a long time in advance, but Chinese diplomats say, ‘You hit us every other day – if that’s the environment, how can we we expect a positive outcome from a Xi-Biden meeting? a person briefed by Chinese planning officials told POLITICO.

« If they can’t have a positive outcome, their view is ‘should we even have the reunion? the person said. The individual was granted anonymity to avoid possible retaliation for speaking publicly about the bilateral feud.

The Chinese Embassy did not respond to a request for comment. The White House has denied any problems in negotiating the planned Biden-Xi meeting.

« This story is 100% false, » National Security Council chief spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in an email. “We have already said that the two presidents have instructed their teams to consider a meeting. I won’t go beyond that in terms of timing and location just yet.

Preparations for a possible Biden-Xi meeting began months ago. The White House announced in July, following Biden’s last call with Xi, that the two sides had agreed on « the interest of meeting face to face » and would determine a « mutually agreeable time to do it ». The Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a delegation to Indonesia in August to prepare for the G20 side meeting in Bali.

But with just a month to go until the G20 meeting in Bali opens, uncertainty over whether Biden will get a one-on-one meeting with Xi is becoming a diplomatic cliffhanger. « It’s still unconfirmed, » said a Washington-based diplomat familiar with the planning for the event. The diplomat was granted anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The meeting is key to the Biden administration’s efforts — outlined in this week’s national security strategy — to find ways to cooperate with China on areas such as climate change while hammering the country with restrictions on access. export and mobilize allies to counter China’s growing aggressiveness. moves into the Indo-Pacific.

So far, China has not been ready for this kind of enemy. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, China began regularly flying fighter jets halfway through the waters between China and the self-governing island, and halted cooperation with the United States in areas such as counter-narcotics and tackling the climate crisis.

The United States responded in kind. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September approved legislation aimed at strengthening Taiwan’s ability to defend itself against a possible Chinese invasion. And over the past week, the administration has restricted semiconductor exports to China, released a national security strategy that paints China as one of the biggest security threats to the United States, and warned that China could pursue « the weaponization of commerce as a tool of geopolitical coercion ».

Beijing has been particularly troubled by this national security strategy, embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said in a statement Thursday.

“The China-related content of the US national security strategy excites great power competition, zero-sum game and ideological confrontation,” he wrote. « The only purpose is to contain and suppress China’s development and maintain US hegemony. »

That anger is increasing the Chinese government’s skepticism about the usefulness of an in-person Xi-Biden meeting, but has yet to completely quash it, said John Kamm, whose role as the Foundation’s founder aims non-profit Dui Hua provides him with regular access to Chinese diplomats.

« Based on surveys with Chinese officials, a meeting is expected but details have not been agreed, » Kamm said. « They’re wary of other surprises like the semiconductor decision, which they’re furious about. »

Still, Beijing’s delays may just be a way to nudge the administration before formalizing the meeting, said Craig Singleton, senior China researcher at the nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies. « Right now, the Biden administration seems more eager for this meeting than Beijing, so China has little incentive to agree to one on Washington’s terms or timeline, » Singleton said. « Better to sweat the White House instead, even if it’s only for a few more weeks. »

The Chinese government’s reluctance to finalize the agenda for a meeting may also reflect Beijing’s desire to delay confirming important diplomatic work until the conclusion of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Congress, which opens on Sunday, will likely grant Xi a five-year extension as CCP general secretary and pave the way for eventual lifelong leader status.

« We will know more at the end of the 20th Party Congress, but if [Chinese officials] keep dissolving us, this is serious,” said the person briefed by Chinese officials on the planning of the Xi-Biden meeting.

But the two leaders will likely have a chance to chat in person in Bali, whether or not they have a formal agenda.

« They’re going to be in the same room for at least 36 hours…they’re not going to ignore each other and stare at each other over the table, » said Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council. « Semiconductors are important, but they will find a way to communicate. »


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