China's President Xi Jinping will meet his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, on the sidelines of a G20 summit next week in Indonesia and he will later attend an APEC summit in Thailand, China's foreign ministry said on Friday. The meeting with Biden, which the White House said earlier said would take place on Monday, will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two since Biden became president and comes amid low expectations for significant breakthroughs.
Bilateral ties are at their worst in decades, strained over issues including trade and technology, human rights and Taiwan, the self-governed democratic island that Beijing claims as its territory. China is the main strategic rival of the United States and the world's second-largest economy, after the United States.
Both sides may use the meeting to seek clarification on each other's "red lines", identify areas for cooperation and to stabilise relations. But significant progress is unlikely, analysts say. "I don't think we can expect any breakthrough," Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies told Reuters.
"They are able to finally get to meet face to face and convey each other's concerns to the other," he said. Biden and Xi last met in person when Biden was vice president during the Obama administration.
"This face-to-face meeting will provide the Biden administration the best opportunity to test whether Xi recognises the importance of stable relations with the U.S. to China’s own security and economy," said Susan Shirk, an author and professor at the University of California San Diego. Xi's trip will be just his second since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When he travelled to Uzbekistan for a meeting of regional leaders in September, he skipped a dinner with 11 other heads of state because of his delegation's COVID-19 policy. The G20 summit is on the Indonesian island of Bali from Monday to Thursday.
Xi will also meet with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, there before travelling to Thailand for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, from Thursday to next Saturday next week, the foreign ministry said.