China’s Biden and Xi are expected to meet virtually on Monday

US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to hold a virtual summit on Monday, the sources said, amid tensions over trade, human rights and military activities.

Washington and Beijing have been discussing issues from the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to the expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal. US officials believe that direct engagement with Xi is the best way to prevent the relationship between the world’s two largest economies from escalating into conflict.

The White House declined to comment on Thursday, and Chinese officials had no immediate comment.

Separately, Biden is expected to address the Asia Pacific Economic Conference leaders’ summit in an online appearance Friday morning.

Xi is likely to invite Biden to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, CNBC reported Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Such a request could put the US president in an uncomfortable situation while pressing China on human rights. Biden is unlikely to go to Beijing for any kind of meeting; the president of the United States did not attend the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, a key ally of the United States.

Biden and Xi last spoke on September 9, a 90-minute conversation that, according to a senior US official, focused on economic issues, climate change and COVID-19.

Biden has been eager to hold face-to-face talks with Xi to try to reduce tensions with Beijing over Taiwan and a host of other issues.

US officials wanted Biden to meet Xi on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Rome two weeks ago, but Xi has not traveled outside of China since the pandemic broke out 21 months ago. On Wednesday, the two countries unveiled a framework agreement at the UN climate conference in Scotland aimed at boosting cooperation to tackle climate change.

Biden-Xi’s latest virtual meeting was originally agreed to last month during talks in Zurich between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi. The White House said Sullivan expressed concern about Chinese actions in the South China Sea, as well as human rights and Beijing’s positions on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

A senior administration official said there was nothing to announce yet. “We have an agreement in principle to have a virtual bilateral meeting before the end of the year. Discussions are taking place at the working level to confirm the details,” the official said.

The White House has characterized the upcoming meeting as part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to “responsibly manage” the competition between the two countries.

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