White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed at her daily White House briefing Wednesday that President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will hold a virtual meeting by the end of the year. The video above shows her discussing the future meeting.
“We continue to believe that leader level engagement is an important part of our effort to responsibly manage the competition with China, especially given the coalescing of power in Chinese leadership,” Psaki said. “We’re still working through what that would look like, when and of course, the final details, so we don’t have quite have them yet.”
The announcement came after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi met for six hours in Zurich Wednesday.
“Their meeting followed up on the September 9 phone call between President Biden and President Xi in which the leaders discussed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” the White House said in a press release. “Mr. Sullivan made clear that while we will continue to invest in our own national strength and work closely with our allies and partners, we will also continue to engage with the PRC at a senior level to ensure responsible competition,” the White House said.
According to the press release, Sullivan brought up areas of concern the U.S. had with China, “including actions related to human rights, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and Taiwan”.
Before the announcement of the future meeting between Biden and Xi, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday reiterated concerns that Beijing was undermining regional peace and stability with its “provocative” action.
“We strongly urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion directed at Taiwan,” Blinken said. “We will continue to stand with friends, with allies to advance shared prosperity, shared security, shared values, as well as continue to deepen our ties with a democratic Taiwan.”
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “As I understand it, what came out of the discussions was an agreement to continue dialogue at a very high level. So what we’ve said, of course, and we continue to believe is that leader level engagement is an important part of our effort to responsibly manage the competition with China, especially given the coalescing of power in Chinese leadership. We’re still working through what that would look like, when and of course, the final details, so we don’t have quite have them yet.
Reporter: “Secondly, the president indicated last night that he had spoken to President Xi about Taiwan. Was this in their more recent phone call, and what exactly did he tell them?”
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “So just you didn’t ask this, but some others have asked us. He did not have a new call (with Xi) that you’re not aware of, so just for full clarity on that. He has spoken with him twice, as you know, and certainly reiterating our position as it relates to, you know, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and our view that we need to uphold that commitment, our commitments under the Act. That is what the president reiterated to President Xi last time he talked and is something that is raised nearly every time he speaks at a leader level and at other levels as well.”
Reporter: “How concerned are you that these recent activities (by the Chinese) might actually escalate and then draw the U.S. into some sort of great power war with China? And so what are you doing to maintain tensions beyond kind of ad hoc meetings like the Zurich meeting that Jake Sullivan?”
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “I wouldn’t call a meeting with our national security advisor and his counterpart in ad hoc meeting. Obviously, we raise our concerns through a range of channels. The State Department also put out a public statement, a proactive statement on this, which is not something they do frequently, and the secretary of State spoke to it today,”
Reporter: “Are there regular meetings to make sure that things like this don’t escalate into something bigger?”
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “Of course we do, as you well know.”