Biden, Xi agreed to meet on their last call, but specifics to be determined, says Kurt Campbell

U.S. President Joe Biden’s top adviser for Indo-Pacific affairs, Kurt Campbell. File

U.S. President Joe Biden’s top adviser for Indo-Pacific affairs, Kurt Campbell. File | Photo Credit: AP

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed on a possible face-to-face meeting, during a marathon phone call on July 22, as per Mr. Biden’s top adviser for Indo-Pacific affairs, Kurt Campbell. The leaders had agreed to have their teams sort out the logistics, but the time and place for the meeting are yet to be determined, Mr. Campbell told reporters on a Friday briefing call.

Earlier in the day, the Wall Street Journal had reported that Chinese officials were preparing for a possible in-person meeting between Mr. Xi and Mr. Biden in Southeast Asia in November, on the sidelines of either the G20 Summit in Bali, or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok. Mr. Xi has not left China since January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Significantly, the July 22 Biden-Xi phone call had occurred before tensions between the U.S. and China surged, following an August 2-3 visit by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taipei. China’s response included military exercises around Taiwan and sanctioning Ms. Pelosi. Beijing also cancelled or suspended a number of engagements with Washington, including bilateral military dialogue mechanisms and climate talks.

“The world’s largest emitter is now refusing to engage in the crucial next steps necessary to stand up to the climate crisis,” he said, adding that China was punishing the world, not the U.S. He accused China of cutting off channels for “responsible risk reduction” and called on Beijing to reopen these.

U.S.-Taiwan ties

The U.S. would continue to take steps to support Taiwan, Mr. Campbell said, without being “reflexive” or “knee-jerk”. The U.S. would continue to fly and sail where international law permitted it, he said, adding that that it would conduct “standard” maritime and air transits via the Taiwan Strait “in the next few weeks”.

Mr. Campbell reiterated that U.S. policies towards China and Taiwan had not changed, but that America deepen its ties with Taiwan, consistent with its ‘One China’ policy, and would announce an “ambitious” roadmap for trade negotiations with Taiwan in the next few days. Beijing had objected when the U.S. and Taiwan officially inaugurated talks on a U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade at the end of June.

“And we will ensure that our presence, posture and exercise account for China’s more provocative and destabilising behaviour, with a view towards guiding the situation in the Western Pacific towards greater stability,” he said.

“China’s actions are fundamentally at odds with the goal of peace and stability,” Mr. Campbell said, adding that he expected more pressure on Taiwan in the coming weeks and months.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 10:48:19 am |