Taiwan is expected to top the agenda when US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet next week – their first in-person encounter since Biden took office in 2020.
The much-awaited meeting comes at a time when relations between the two superpowers have particularly soured.
This has been fuelled by Beijing’s claims over self-ruled Taiwan and its increasing assertiveness in Asia.
The US has responded by restricting access to computer chip technology.
That has hit China’s export-driven economy which uses the tech to make and sell everything from phones to electric cars.
Given the recent spike in tensions and rhetoric, the world – and America’s Asian allies such India, Japan and Australia – will be closely watching the meeting scheduled to take place on Monday in Bali ahead of the G20 Summit.
Xi has spent most of the pandemic in China and only recently began traveling overseas again.
“I’m sure we’ll discuss Taiwan… and what I want to do with him when we talk is lay out… what each of our red lines are,” Biden said at a press conference on Thursday after the White House confirmed the meeting.
This way they can “determine whether or not they conflict with one another… and if they do, how to resolve and how to work it out”, he said.
However, he also added that he was not willing to “make any fundamental concessions” about the US policy on Taiwan.
Beijing sees the self-governing island as its own territory that must be united with the mainland. But Taiwan sees itself as distinct.
Biden, unlike previous US presidents, has repeatedly said the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
But the White House has always rolled back his comments, insisting that Washington’s stance of “strategic ambiguity” – under which it does not commit to defending Taiwan but also does not rule out the option – remains unchanged.