Biden seeks to build 'floor' for China relations in Xi meeting

U.S. President Joe Biden hopes to limit deterioration of ties with China when he meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping next week, but he will be honest about U.S. concerns, including over Taiwan and human rights, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

"The president believes it is critical to build a floor for the relationship and ensure that there are rules of the road that bound our competition," the official told reporters in a call on the meeting.

The White House said Biden will hold talks on Monday with Xi on the sidelines of a Group of 20 nations summit in Indonesia, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president in January 2021.

Biden and Xi last met in person during the Obama administration, and U.S. ties with China have since slumped to their lowest level in decades, most notably since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August trip to Taiwan, the self-governed democratic island that Beijing claims as its territory.

China is Washington's main strategic rival and the world's second largest economy after the United States. Biden has been seeking stable relations with Beijing despite tensions over Taiwan, the South China Sea, trade and a host of other issues.

The senior administration official said there would be no joint statement from a meeting at which there are no expectations for specific agreements.

"I expect the president will be honest about a number of our concerns, including PRC (People's Republic of China) activity that threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as our longstanding concerns about human rights violations," the official said.

Russia's war in Ukraine and North Korea would likely be discussed, the official said.

Biden said on Wednesday that he was unwilling to make any fundamental concessions when he meets Xi, and that he wanted both leaders to lay out their "red lines" and resolve areas of conflict, including on Taiwan.

The White House sought to maintain dialogue that China decided to cut off after Pelosi's visit in such areas as climate and military-to-military communications, the official said, but there was no expectation the two leaders would be able to sit down and solve all their problems.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters later that the administration would brief Taiwan on the results of Biden's meeting with Xi, aiming to make Taipei feel "secure and comfortable" about U.S. support.

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