Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said that President Joe Biden would be entering the virtual summit Monday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a position of strength’ – thanks to the passing infrastructure bill.     

“Today, he will sign this infrastructure bill. The infrastructure bill, which was signed Monday at a press conference, is vital and significant for many reasons. 

Biden will meet Xi at 7:45 p.m. Washington Time Monday night. This is the same time as 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday in Beijing. Psaki stated that the meeting should last several hours. 

President Joe Biden

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Joe Biden, President of the United States (left), will host a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday night (right). As leaders attempt to calm tensions about Taiwan and other issues, the summit will last for several hours.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued in advance of the Biden-Xi virtual meeting that the president was coming into the meeting from a 'position of strength,' pointing to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill

Jen Psaki (White House press secretary) argued before the Biden Xi virtual meeting, that the president came into the meeting in a position of strength. She referred to the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill. 

According to the press secretary, Biden is expected to enter the negotiations in good standing since he has spent 10 months strengthening relationships with U.S. allies. 

She stated that both the president and national security team believe the president has arrived at this meeting in a strong position. Look at the situation nine months back. We discussed our approach to China many months back, how it was laid out, and how important it was for us to strengthen our alliances, coordinate with Europeans and other partners around the globe on this matter. 

“We have made immense strides in building those relationships,” Psaki stated, referring specifically to Rome’s G20 and Rome’s COP26 climate summits. 

Monday’s virtual summit meeting with China aims at defusing tensions regarding Taiwan and other points. 

Both sides, however, have shown little interest in compromise.   

Psaki stated that the President will likely express his views on areas in which China needs to take additional actions. He also said that China must be more consistent with expectations and rules with the United States. 

Biden was inaugurated in January. The leaders spoke by telephone twice. However, Xi has refused to travel overseas because of the pandemic. An online meeting with Xi is all that’s left.

The buildup to the summit has been dominated by the dispute over Taiwan. China claims Taiwan as its self-governing democracy. Biden’s aides see the summit as an opportunity for them to stop tensions from escalating.

Reporters were told by a senior official from the administration that ‘we know that as responsible global leaders it’s essential to keep communication channels open’. They also added that conflict should not arise between the countries.

“The President will make it clear, too that we are looking to create common safeguards in order to prevent miscalculation or confusion.”

However, the White House attempted to temper expectations with the statement that the summit “isn’t a meeting where deliverables will be coming out”.

Biden has been a consistent voice on foreign policy issues throughout his many decades of political service.

Xi has not been to China in almost two years. Biden strongly criticised his attendance at the recent COP 26 and G20 climate summits in Glasgow, Glasgow.

Donald Trump’s presidency saw relations between superpowers fall during his tenure. He launched a trade conflict with China and attacked Beijing for its handling of the pandemic.

Biden has redefined the conflict as an ongoing struggle between democracy, autocracy. 

Even though Trump’s day-to-day approach is less measured, Taiwan relations are worsening.

China’s military activity near Taiwan has increased in recent years. In October, a record-breaking number of warplanes entered the island’s air defense area.

While the United States claims it supports Taiwan’s self-defense, they are unsure if it would interfere to directly help. China has been urging Washington to be careful with its rhetoric.

In a weekend meeting, Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister stated that any support or connivance for “Taiwan independence forces” would undermine peace in Taiwan Strait. He also said this to Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State.

China’s foreign minister placed Monday the responsibility on Biden for improving relations.

Zhao Lijian (foreign ministry spokesperson) stated that they hope the U.S. and China will cooperate in the same direction to make things better for each other.

Chinese media also highlighted Taiwan Monday as the flashpoint of current tensions between US and China.

In an editorial, the Global Times, a tabloid that is hawkish, stated that the United States should ‘take back’ from Taiwan.

A US official indicated however that Biden would not be shy about addressing China’s “coercive, provocative” behavior towards Taiwan.

Officials also stressed the possibility of cooperation between them in different areas like climate change.

The virtual meeting takes place at a moment when Xi is attempting to consolidate his power.

The top Chinese Communist Party leaders passed a resolution last week that will help Xi consolidate his power and set in place his vision of China.

According to a Washington official, the resolution “further cemented” power in China’s hands.

“In our minds that just further underlines the importance of this leader-level engagement.”