White House: No Plans Yet for Second Phone Call Between Biden, Chinese Leader Xi

By Emel Akan
Emel Akan
Emel Akan
reporter
Emel Akan is White House economic policy reporter in Washington, D.C. Previously she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan and as a consultant at PwC. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.
July 9, 2021 Updated: July 11, 2021

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is communicating with senior Chinese officials, but there are no immediate plans to host a second phone call between the president and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the White House said on July 9.

“Certainly, we are in touch, at a very high level, with Chinese leaders. In terms of an upcoming call with President Xi, I don’t have anything to predict on that front,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing, in response to a question by The Epoch Times.

President Joe Biden held his first official phone call with the Chinese leader on February 10. A month later, senior diplomats from both countries met for talks in Alaska, an engagement now remembered for the public tongue-lashing given by the Chinese officials.

Since then, Biden has embarked on a campaign of rallying allies in Europe and elsewhere to jointly confront global threats posed by the communist regime, as well as its rampant human rights abuses. These actions have been met with scorn by Chinese Communist Party officials.

Last month, national security adviser Jake Sullivan also said that the White House was planning to step up engagement with China in coming months “in some ways to take stock of” where both countries are in their relationship and to ensure some kind of “direct communication” that Biden has found valuable with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden “will look for opportunities to engage with President Xi going forward,” Sullivan said during a press call on June 17.

He also didn’t rule out the possibility of a meeting on the sidelines of the upcoming Group of Twenty (G–20) summit in October.

“We don’t have any particular plans at the moment, but I would note that both leaders are likely to be at the G20 in Italy in October. So I will leave it at that for now,” he said.

The Financial Times on June 23 reported that Biden was planning to launch the “next phase” of his China policy and hence was pushing for high-level meetings, according to sources familiar with the matter. It’s unclear whether Biden will exert more pressure on China to address issues surrounding human rights, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Biden last month criticized Beijing’s “intensifying repression” in Hong Kong after the forced closure of Apple Daily, a major pro-democracy newspaper. The president also has ordered a closer intelligence review on the origins of the COVID-19, including whether the pandemic was the result of a laboratory leak.

In a speech last week marking the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding, Xi said that foreign forces would get their “heads bashed” if they attempted to bully China. He added that the regime would “smash” any attempts from self-ruled Taiwan to claim formal independence.

His speech came after Washington resumed trade talks with Taiwan on June 29, despite objections from Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the democratic island.

Psaki didn’t confirm any summit with Xi but said, “I know that G–20 summit is coming up right around Halloween, but that is quite some time from now in terms of the planning and what other events may or may not be around it.”

Nicole Hao and Eva Fu contributed to this report.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that there were talks between the United States and China about a second call between Biden and Xi. The Epoch Times regrets the error. 

Emel Akan
Emel Akan
reporter
Emel Akan is White House economic policy reporter in Washington, D.C. Previously she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan and as a consultant at PwC. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.