Joe Biden will today hold his first summit with Xi Jinping as President with a clear majority of Americans believing that China is the biggest threat to the USA. Issues including the future of Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be on the table when the world’s two most powerful men sit down together but Mr. Biden is still haunted by pictures of him drinking champagne with the Chinese President seven years ago.
According to this month’s poll by the Washington DC based Democracy Institute for Express.co.uk, American voters overwhelmingly see China as their number one threat.
The poll puts China at the top of international dangers with 57 percent naming it and Iran a distant second with 22 percent followed by North Korea 10 percent and Russia in a low fourth at nine percent.
The meeting comes as both world leaders have recently had their positions bolstered at home.
Biden’s Democrats have held on to the Senate against expectations in the 2022 midterm elections and seen minimal losses in the House of Representatives as a Republican red wave failed to materialise.
Meanwhile, Xi has been elected for an unprecedented third term as Chinese President at this year’s Communist Party Congress.
Mr Biden has been criticized by Republicans for his past close relations to Xi and China, infamously hosting a champagne reception for the brutal Communist leader when he was Barack Obama’s Vice President in 2015.
At the time the US government was pushing to open trade with China despite serious concerns over human rights in the country including the persecution of the Uyghurs.
Seven years on relations are much more tense and Biden and Xi are set to discuss the future of Taiwan after Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited it earlier this year in a sign of solidarity against China’s claims to the island.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement the leaders will meet to “discuss efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between” the two countries and to “responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, especially on transnational challenges.” that affect the international community.”
Also on the agenda will be Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with China currently staying neutral in the conflict.
READ MORE: Biden prepares for showdown with Xi as tensions reach boiling point
According to the Associated Press (AP), the White House has been working with Chinese officials over the last several weeks to arrange the meeting. Biden on Wednesday told reporters he intended to discuss with Xi growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, trade policies, Beijing’s relationship with Russia and more.
Before leaving for the G20, Biden told journalists: “What I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what each of our red lines are and understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States.
“And determine whether or not they conflict with one another.”
The White House also sought to downplay expectations for the meeting, telling reporters there was no joint communique or deliverables anticipated from the sit-down.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said: “I don’t think you should look at this meeting as one in which there’s going to be specific deliverables announced.
“Rather the two leaders are going to give direction to their teams to work on a number of areas, both areas where we have differences and areas where we can work together.”
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Biden and Xi traveled together in the US and China in 2011 and 2012 when both leaders were serving as their respective countries’ vice presidents, and they have held five phone or video calls since Biden became president in January 2021.
The closeness of their relationship became a major focus of attack on the Democrats by Donald Trump in the 2016 election helping him beat Hillary Clinton.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a Thursday news briefing that China was looking for “win-win cooperation with the US” while reiterating Beijing’s concerns about the American stance on Taiwan.
“The US needs to stop obscuring, hollowing out and distorting the One China principle, abide by the basic norms in international relations, including respecting other countries’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs,” he said.