President Joe Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, as the US leader seeks to increase global pressure on Russia to end its conflict in Ukraine.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday. “The two leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”
The phone call is the first between Biden and Xi since November, and it comes in the wake of a meeting between National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, in Rome on Monday.
China has synchronized its rhetoric with that of Moscow, and Xi and Vladimir Putin announced in the weeks leading up to the invasion that their nations’ alliance had “no limits.” China has also stated that it wishes to avoid being affected by US sanctions related to the Ukraine conflict.
The Biden administration has attempted to convince Beijing to use its power to assist end the war but has typically been hesitant to openly chastise Beijing for its implicit backing for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, it has stated that every nation would be judged by history for its participation in the war, and US officials have warned China, both publicly and privately, that they would face harsh repercussions if they assisted Russia by cushioning the shock of sanctions.
Beijing has denied any steps to assist Moscow, and Chinese officials have stated their desire for the situation to be resolved. On Thursday, China’s foreign ministry backed remarks made by its ambassador to Ukraine, in which Beijing made some of its most supportive words to the war-torn country to date.
According to a statement posted on the Lviv government’s website, during a meeting on Monday, Ambassador Fan Xianrong informed Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskyi that China was a “friendly country for the Ukrainian people” and would “never attack Ukraine.” He went on to commend the Ukrainian people’s strength and togetherness, clearly referring to their efforts to repel Russia’s continuing aggression.
When asked about Fan’s statements at a press conference on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian stated, “China surely supports these remarks by our ambassador in Ukraine. China supports all efforts that are conducive to easing the situation and for a political settlement.”
Zhao had stated the day before that he was “not aware.” “of the statements, increasing speculation over whether Fan was representing the central government’s perspective. The world’s two greatest economies continue to clash over human rights and economic policy. The Biden administration has yet to announce steps against China’s detrimental non-market behaviours.
Biden and Xi last talked in November, during a video conference in which Biden emphasized the need for the two nations to establish guardrails to prevent their rivalry from devolving into violence.