President Joe Biden is seeking a discussion on how to avoid a conflict between the U.S. and China when he meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Asia this week.
Biden is set to meet face-to-face with Xi during his trip through Asia this week. During a White House press conference on Wednesday, Biden said he is hoping to discuss security “red lines” with Xi when they meet.
“What I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what the — what kind of — what each of our red lines are, 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 to determine whether or not they conflict with one another,” Biden told reporters. “And if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out.”
Biden offered that comment in response to a question about whether or not he’d tell Xi that the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China were to invade.
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory.
Biden has repeatedly said the U.S. would defend Taiwan if it was attacked, though his White House has backtracked his comments each time, saying the president was not communicating any change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China.
During his Wednesday press briefing, Biden said “the Taiwan doctrine has not changed at all from the very beginning — the very beginning. So, I’m sure we’ll discuss China — excuse me, Taiwan.”
“I’m sure we’ll discuss a number of other issues,” Biden added. “Including fair trade and — and rela- — relationships relating to his relationship with other countries in the region.”
Biden’s messaging on China has been mixed.
Early on in the 2020 presidential election race, Biden said China was “not competition” for the United States. Later in the election cycle Biden said China is a “competitor” but not an “opponent” like Russia.
At the start of his presidency, Biden said the U.S. would “confront” China where necessary but “work with Beijing, when it’s in America’s interests to do so.”