NEW YORK (REUTERS, AFP) – Chinese officials are planning a possible trip by Xi Jinping to South-east Asia in November for what could be the leader’s first foreign trip since the Covid-19 pandemic and include a meeting with US President Joe Biden, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (Aug 12).
Mr Biden’s team has long sought and has not yet confirmed an in-person meeting between the two leaders to lower tensions as the two countries spar over Taiwan, trade and a host of other issues.
The White House is continuing to work on doing so, according to one person familiar with the matter, who said Biden remains open to a face-to-face visit, including on the sidelines of November’s meeting of the Group of 20 nations in Indonesia.
“We don’t have any details on timing or location,” said a US official.
But Mr Kurt Campbell, the coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs in Biden’s national security council, confirmed on Friday that the two leaders had raised the possibility of an in-person meeting when they last talked by phone in late July “and agreed to have their teams follow up to sort out the specifics”.
Mr Campbell said there were no new details to announce, but both leaders are expected to take part in the G20 meeting in November in Bali, Guardian reported.
Mr Xi and Mr Biden discussed the possible meeting during a more-than-two-hour July 28 call that included tense talks over a visit to the Chinese-claimed island of Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mr Campbell said the United States is responding to China’s “provocative” behaviour on Taiwan by boosting trade with the democratically run island and insisting on right of air and sea passage through the tense Taiwan Strait.
A new trade plan will be unveiled within days, while US forces will transit the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks, said Mr Campbell.
He told reporters that China has used the controversial recent visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan to try and change the island’s uneasy status quo.
In response, the United States is reasserting its involvement in the area, while reiterating the policy of diplomatically recognising China while simultaneously supporting Taiwan’s self-rule.
Mr Campbell said the administration would continue to “deepen our ties with Taiwan, including through continuing to advance our economic and trade relationship.”
“For example, we’re developing an ambitious roadmap for trade negotiations which we intend to announce in the coming days,” he said.
Mr Campbell said that the United States will reassert its rights to use international air and sea space between Taiwan and China.