President Biden on Monday said he plans to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping soon, as the White House increasingly signals its willingness to have the two leaders connect amid heightened tensions.
Biden was asked during a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in San Diego, Calif., whether he’d speak to Xi soon and responded, “yes.” Biden would not provide any more specifics on when they’d talk.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan earlier Monday told reporters the White House is expecting Biden and Xi to have a conversation now that the National People’s Congress, an annual legislative convention, has ended.
“So, at some point in the coming period — I can’t give you a date, because there’s no date set — but President Biden has indicated his willingness to have a telephone conversation with President Xi once they’re back and in stride coming off of the National People’s Congress,” Sullivan said aboard Air Force One.
Biden and Xi have not spoken since the U.S. military last month shot down a Chinese spy balloon near the coast of South Carolina after it traversed a swath of the continental United States. After detecting that balloon, U.S. officials detailed how the Chinese had a large-scale balloon surveillance program, and said other balloons had entered U.S. airspace in recent years but were not detected at the time.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have also been heightened amid reports China is considering providing aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine. Biden administration officials have said they have yet to see any indication that China has in fact provided any aid.
Biden was in San Diego on Monday with Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to announce an agreement to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines and increase submarine patrols in an effort to bolster the defense capabilities in the Indo-Pacific as a counter to China. The president brushed off the suggestion that the announcement would be viewed by China as an act of aggression.