Exclusive-Biden set to speak with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Friday, sources say

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden is expected to speak with Wang Yi when China’s top diplomat visits the White House this week, according to two U.S. officials familiar with planning for the visit.

Wang, who is set to meet Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, at the White House on Friday could see Biden in person at that time, according to one of the people.

The White House declined to comment.

It is unclear how substantial their interaction will be, but even an informal greeting would be Biden’s senior-most interaction with the Chinese government since he briefly met Chinese President Xi Jinping’s No. 2, Premier Li Qiang, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.

It comes as U.S. and Chinese officials set the stage for a long-sought, one-on-one meeting between Biden and Xi at November’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. Xi and Biden last met at a summit in Bali last November.

Wang is also set to meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his trip to Washington this Thursday through Saturday. Several top U.S. officials including Blinken met their Chinese counterparts in Beijing this summer.

Wang is the top foreign affairs official in the Chinese Communist Party and also foreign minister since the dismissal of Qin Gang in July.

Biden said during a press conference on Wednesday he plans to “compete” with China “according to the international rules – economically, politically, and other ways – but I’m not looking for conflict.” He also warned Chinese officials against aggression toward the Philippines.

For his part, Xi said on Wednesday China is willing to cooperate with the United States as both sides manage their differences and work together to respond to global challenges, according to Chinese state media.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Lincoln Feast.)