U.S. President Joe Biden plans to speak with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, by the end of the month at a time of simmering tensions between the countries over Taiwan and trade.
“I think I’ll be talking to President Xi within the next 10 days,” Biden told reporters as he returned from a climate-related trip to Massachusetts.
The long-discussed call between the two leaders, their first in four months, would come at a crucial moment given tensions over the status of Taiwan, and as the Biden administration weighs cutting import duties on goods from China to help reduce inflation pressures on American consumers.
The United States calls China its main strategic rival and says high-level engagement is important to keeping the difficult relationship stable and preventing it from veering inadvertently into conflict. Last month, Washington pushed NATO to adopt a strategic document calling China a security challenge.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Biden appeared to cast doubt on a trip reportedly planned by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan next month.
“I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I don’t know what the status of it is,” Biden said.
Beijing said on Tuesday it would respond with “forceful measures” should Pelosi visit the Chinese-claimed island, and that such a visit would “seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Pelosi’s office declined to comment on whether the visit is moving forward, citing security concerns. The State Department has called the trip hypothetical. Plans for the trip were reported by the Financial Times, which also said The White House had expressed concerns.
China considers the democratically governed island its own territory, and the issue is a constant irritant in ties between Beijing and Washington.
Biden’s administration has repeatedly spoken of its rock-solid commitment to the island’s security.