G20, meeting Biden-Xi on November 14th

Interview scheduled on the eve of the summit

“President Biden will meet with President Xi Jinping in Bali, Indonesia on November 14th.” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre announces the summit between the two leaders, which will take place the day before the start of the G20 summit. “The leaders will discuss efforts to maintain and strengthen the lines of communication between the United States and China – the note continues – to responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, especially the transnational challenges that plague the international community. The two leaders – he concludes – will also discuss a series of regional and global issues “.

For months there has been discussion of the possibility that the G20 summit in Bali could be the occasion of the first meeting of people between Biden and Xi, who had their first virtual summit exactly one year earlier, on November 15, 2021, than the one scheduled in Bali. An administration source explained that the meeting will be “a substantial and in-depth conversation” between the two leaders, without however envisaging effective progress on the many issues on the table. With Biden, the White House assures him that he will be “honest” about “numerous concerns”, starting with that of human rights.

The interview takes place at a time when relations between China and the United States are at one of the lowest points it has ever had in decades. With the national security strategy presented in recent weeks by Biden which identifies China “as the most consequential geopolitical challenge”, emphasizing in particular the concern for the combination of “authoritarian governance and revisionism in foreign policy”.

Even in this certainly not positive scenario, the White House sees the meeting as an attempt for Biden and Xi to understand each other’s priorities and establish “a ground” for relationships that ensure the lines of communication remain open even in times of tension. In this regard, Xi’s warnings against the use of nuclear weapons, intended as a clear signal to Vladimir Putin, and his exhortations that Germany push for peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are recalled.

Xi arrives at the meeting at a time of great political strength, after securing a third presidential term, which concentrates in his hands a power never seen since the days of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Biden too, having averted the red wave in the midterm elections, will arrive in Bali in a position of greater strength, even against the many democrats who would not want to be reappointed in 2024.

Speaking yesterday about his possible meeting with Xi, Biden reiterated that “he is not willing to make any fundamental concessions”. And he reminded the Chinese leader that, in previous talks, he said: “I want competition, not conflict”. “I am sure we will discuss Taiwan and I am sure we will discuss a number of issues, such as fair trade and its relations with other countries in the region,” Biden added that he will tell Xi that he is committed to the defense of Taiwan.