PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China will meet Monday ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, a meeting that Biden and his advisers said would focus on setting expectations with the Chinese as tensions continue to mount over issues such as Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting, the first face-to-face between the two since Biden took office, comes after the president attended a climate conference in Egypt and made another stop in Cambodia this week. In Cambodia, he plans to speak to leaders of Southeast Asian countries as part of a larger effort to strengthen ties that could help counter China’s influence in the region.
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters at a briefing Thursday that Mr. Biden will “sit in the same room with Xi Jinping, be direct and forthright with him as he always is, and expect the same in return from.” Xi.”
A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also reiterated the president’s position, put forward during a news conference on Wednesday, that he would not make “fundamental concessions” on U.S. support for Taiwan. China insists that Taiwan is part of its territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi are also expected to discuss trade, human rights and North Korea.
Arranging a meeting gives Mr. Biden, a politician who believes in the power of face-to-face encounters, a chance to restore borders with a leader he treats more as a Cold War-era enemy than the skeptical competitor he once did had knew. Since the two first met when they were both vice presidents over a decade ago, Mr. Xi has tightened his grip on power domestically and has become more confrontational as a global opponent, even as he has been more physically isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Mr. Biden said during a news conference on Wednesday that he wanted to draw “red lines” in the working relationship with China, assess the United States’ critical interests and “determine whether or not they conflict with one another.” And if so, how to solve it and how to work it out.”
Expectations are low. The senior White House official called Thursday’s meeting a “bottoming out” in US-China relations and said the president will be honest about his concerns. The two leaders will not release a joint statement after their meeting.
No American president has recently taken a bolder stance on Taiwan than Mr. Biden. He has said four times that the US military will defend Taiwan if China attacks it, although other American officials insist it is not a formal policy. The president has continued to send US naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait while China takes military action there to change the status quo. And its government has been urging Taiwan to stockpile weapons to become a “porcupine” capable of deterring an invasion by the People’s Liberation Army.
Biden’s senior advisers have said he has been “direct and honest” in talks with China about the United States’ interest in Taiwan, but Mr Xi has used more aggressive language in his warnings. “Those who play with fire will perish,” he told Biden during a marathon call in July, according to China’s foreign ministry.
Since Mr. Biden took office, he has spoken to Mr. Xi five times, emphasizing the time he has spent and the miles he has traveled with the Chinese leader, even as his government has sought to review China’s capability , to advance its technological and military development ambitions. These efforts have drawn strong reprimands from Beijing.
China “is the only country that both intends to transform the international order and increasingly possesses the economic, diplomatic, military and technological might to advance that goal,” Mr. Biden wrote in a document released last month national security strategy. A defense strategy released by the Pentagon late last month described China as a growing threat and stressed its efforts to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
Still, the Biden administration says it hopes Mr. Xi will be willing to work together to prevent the relationship from deteriorating further. Mr. Biden and his advisers have suggested the two countries can work together to counter North Korea as it steps up missile testing and deploys warplanes near the border with South Korea.