Following President Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House is considering setting up talks between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Thursday.
“What the President said about there being no substitute for leader-level dialogue as a central part of why he held the summit with Putin yesterday also applies to China and to President Xi Jinping,” Sullivan told reporters. “He will look for opportunities to engage with President Xi going forward.”
Sullivan said that the White House doesn’t have “particular plans at the moment” but noted that Xi and Biden will both be at the G20 summit in Italy this October. “Soon enough, we will sit down to work out the right modality for the two presidents to engage,” he said.
In March, Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in person with China’s top diplomats in Anchorage, Alaska. The meeting showed the sorry state of US-China relations. Blinken opened the talks by accusing China of threatening the “rules-based order,” and things went downhill from there.
With US-China relations so strained, a meeting with Xi and Biden could help ease tensions. But considering countering and confronting China is Biden’s top foreign policy priority, there’s a good chance the two leaders might struggle to find common ground.
Any attempt Biden makes towards rapprochement with China would likely come under harsh criticism from Republican China hawks who falsely portray Biden as being soft on Beijing.