(Bloomberg) — The US and China will work toward setting up a meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month in San Francisco, according to senior administration officials.
Both sides agreed to maintain open lines of communication to build on this week’s visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
Chinese officials signaled that they plan to work toward a Biden-Xi meeting, said another US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to detail the discussions. The US official characterized the conversations with Wang as touching on all elements of US-China ties and as positive and professional.
The US warned China about backing Iran and the threat of a wider war in the region and Washington and Beijing are more aligned on working together to head off a potential escalation in the Middle East, the US official said.
China’s discussions with the US are increasingly focused on economic issues, including their concerns over technology sanctions, the US official said, expressing Beijing’s worries that the US approach will hold back the country’s development.
US officials have been eager to announce a meeting between Biden and Xi, who have not spoken since they last met at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia almost a year ago. Officials from the world’s two largest economies for months have worked to set up a leaders’ sit-down around the time of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November.
Wang held two days of meetings in Washington with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan — and also met with Biden on Friday at the White House.
Biden officials described the discussions with Wang, which lasted over 6 hours as frank, as touching on a range of issues, including Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong; disputes in the South China Sea; and counter-narcotics efforts. Biden met for one hour with Wang and stressed the importance of the two countries communicating and managing competition responsibly.
Earlier: Biden Urges ‘Open Lines’ in Meet With China’s Top Envoy
Sullivan and Wang also discussed global security challenges, including the Middle East and Russia, the officials said. In the talks with Wang, the US pressed China to take a more constructive approach in the Middle East, according to the officials, where the Biden administration is seeking to keep the Israel-Hamas war from escalating and dragging in other nations or groups.
China has been unwilling to take sides in both conflicts, instead urging a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Beijing has also continued to supply Moscow with aid to support its war in Ukraine, US officials said, though, there’s no evidence so far that Beijing has crossed the line of providing lethal support.
China should use its relationships with nations in the region to call for calm, an official told reporters on the briefing Friday evening.
Despite the extensive dialogue with Wang this week, the officials said the increased diplomacy with China did not signal a change in the administration’s approach to Beijing. The US is still pushing China to restore military-to-military channels that have been suspended, they added.
Relations deteriorated sharply after Biden and Xi met last year in Bali, hitting a low after a US military aircraft shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon and virtually all channels of communication were cut off.
A flurry of diplomacy in recent months has seen the relationship move to a better footing, with Biden dispatching a number of Cabinet officials to Beijing.
Still, there have been fresh flashpoints, including in June when Biden made remarks likening Xi to a dictator — remarks which China called a provocation. In August, Biden delivered another barb, calling China’s economic problems a “ticking time bomb.”
The US had expectations that the G-20 meeting in India last month could provide an opportunity to meet but Xi skipped the gathering amid mounting tensions between Beijing and New Delhi.
Despite the recent thaw, the countries have fundamental disagreements over their technological ambitions.
Biden has moved to restrict exports on advanced semiconductors as well as chipmaking gear to China to prevent the economic competitor from gaining cutting-edge technologies. Biden has also pushed an industrial policy that has provided massive subsidies to boost domestic manufacturing and diversify supply chains for clean energy, electric vehicles and chips.
China has denounced the US strategy as one of “containment.”
—With assistance from Courtney McBride and Michelle Jamrisko.
(Updates with additional details, background)