Blinken: Biden, Xi expected to have opportunity to speak in coming weeks

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said President Biden and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will have an opportunity to speak in the coming weeks amid tensions over Taiwan, Russia and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region.

At a press availability in Bangkok, Blinken said his “expectation is that they will have an opportunity to speak in the weeks ahead” but did not pinpoint exactly when and where the talks would take place.

Biden traveled to the Indo-Pacific region in May for a meeting with the Quad security dialogue between Japan, the U.S., Australia and India. The trip came amid tensions between Beijing building up artificial naval bases in the region and Chinese officials forging a new security agreement with the Solomon Islands.

Blinken on Sunday said the U.S. is committed to working within the Indo-Pacific to ensure a “free” and “open” region, pointing to the new economic framework the U.S. hashed out with the Quad in May that aims to accelerate and modernize regional economies.

“That means, among other things, that people, products, investment can move about freely and go where it’s needed,” he said. “It means that countries can make their own decisions about their own futures, their own policies, free from coercion by anyone else.”

During the May visit, Biden said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded the independent and sovereign democratic island nation off the coast of the Chinese mainland, which heightened tensions between the Biden administration and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The warning was also a departure from the administration’s previous policy of not getting involved in China’s policies on Taiwan, which Beijing sees as historically part of its country.

On Sunday, Blinken discussed other tensions between China and the U.S., including Russia’s war in Ukraine and the military coup in Myanmar, which has displaced tens of thousands of citizens and has reportedly led to a brutal regime oppressing the nation’s people. China has been accused of arming the Myanmar military.

“I can’t speak directly to what China is or isn’t doing in Burma, but I think it’s also incumbent upon China, and in China’s interests, to see Burma move back to the path that it was on and it was so violently disrupted from by the coup,” Blinken said at the press availability.

The secretary of State also confirmed the U.S. will be present at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November, which China’s Xi has said he will attend.

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