Update: Xi, Biden to hold virtual meeting, ‘positive sign’ for improving fraught ties
Published: Nov 13, 2021 09:10 AM
China US Photo: VCG

China US Photo: VCG

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with US President Joe Biden via video link on the morning of November 16 (Beijing Time), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Saturday.

Since the beginning of the year, President Xi has held two phone conversations with Biden at the US' invitation, and the two leaders agreed to maintain regular communication through various ways.

Major issues related to bilateral relations and topics that would guide future ties are expected to be discussed. For example, cooperation on climate change, opposition to a new Cold War and how to manage tariffs would be covered, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. 

To meet domestic political needs, Biden may also refer to issues related to China's domestic affairs, including China's Xinjiang region. Given the US' recent provocation on the Taiwan question, China would reiterate its stance on the one-China principle, Li noted. 

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times the two leaders are likely to talk about overall bilateral relations, and it's necessary for the US to explain what "competition" is as the US has been pursuing a competition policy with China. 

Lü noted that competition could either be a positive and friendly competition or a confrontation. He urged the US not to be reckless on trade and mutual security issues, especially on the South China Sea and Taiwan question, as it cannot bear the response from China. 

As Biden will turn 79 later this month, Lü said that he believes Xi is also likely to send him birthday wishes. 

There have been more interactions between China and the US, which is seen as positive signals for improving deteriorating relations between the world's two largest economies. For example, China and the US announced a climate action deal at the COP26 on Wednesday and many media referred to it as "surprise move" that would boost global cooperation. 

Instead of tit-for-tat battles of words, recent interactions between China and the US have been positive, which helps to create a good atmosphere for the leaders' meeting and show each other that they are making efforts to control disputes, analysts noted. 

The upcoming virtual meeting between Xi and Biden would be their third round of communications this year - President Xi had a phone call with Biden in February, on the eve of the Spring Festival, and in September, both at the invitation of the US. 

The previous two conversations played key roles in helping to know each other and this virtual meeting may help set the interaction path and tone within two to three years, Li said.  

Unlike the two previous phone calls between Xi and Biden, a virtual meeting is very close to a face-to-face meeting as the two could have more interactions, Lü said, noting that the US was trying to have a feel of the strength of China and the US itself during the first and second phone calls between Xi and Biden. But this upcoming virtual meeting will be more like a conclusion.

The US claimed that it deals with China from "the position of strength," and after two phone calls and other bilateral engagements, the US is finally aware that China is on par with the US from "the position of strength," Lü said. 

After the leaders' summit, Lü said China and the US will likely embrace more frequent interactions in the last two months of 2021 and first quarter of 2022, probably in trade and the military. 

"A mutually satisfactory arrangement on bilateral trade is expected during the period, and the two militaries may carry out positive contacts on the South China Sea issue, as unlike the Taiwan question where the US uses military factors mainly for a political stance, military activities in the South China Sea may result in confrontation," Lü said. 

Li remains cautiously optimistic toward future bilateral relations, given the US' previous moves and the Biden administration's conflicting remarks and actions. The democracy summit which is scheduled to be held in December is Biden's next move targeting China.  

"We need to stay alert to ensure that future China-US relations could develop in a responsible and stable direction instead of being sabotaged by US extremist conservatives," Li noted.