President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set to make contact in the “next few weeks,” a senior US official told reporters Monday. They “will have the opportunity to engage over the course of the next few weeks,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.
A new call between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies has been long expected amid tensions over trade, China’s sabre rattling around Taiwan, and pressure on Beijing not to help Russia get around Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion. A week ago, Biden said he planned on “having a conversation with President Xi”.
“We haven’t set a time yet,” he said, while a few days earlier he’d said the call could be “soon”. The last video conference between the two leaders was on March 18, when Biden warned Xi against assisting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
A key item in the next discussion will be Biden’s possible decision to lift some of the trade tariffs imposed under Donald Trump, with billions of dollars of Chinese imports facing 25 percent duties. The penalties were aimed at punishing what the United States says are China’s unfair trade practices and protecting US manufacturers.
The move was popular politically but with inflation at 40-year highs in the United States, Biden is scrambling to find ways to relieve price pressure and he has said that lifting some tariffs is under consideration.
Any decision would likely have to come soon, as some of the Trump tariffs are set to expire starting July 6 unless they are renewed.