President Biden is expected to have a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, the White House said, calling the United States’ relationship with Beijing “one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world,” as U.S. officials double down on their warnings that China poses the greatest long-term threat to U.S. national security.
“This is one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world and in one of the most important parts of the world,” White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said Tuesday.
Kirby could not give a “specific” date and time for the call between Biden and Xi, but said he expects it to happen “probably this week.”
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Kirby said Biden and Xi would discuss “everything from the tensions over Taiwan to the war in Ukraine, as well as how we better manage competition between our two nations, certainly in the economic sphere.”
“There’s a host of issues, and this is a discussion that, quite frankly, has been playing for a long time,” Kirby said, noting that Biden and Xi have a “pretty robust agenda of things” to discuss.
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The call between Biden and Xi comes as Pentagon and intelligence officials warn of the threat China poses to U.S. national security.
Assistant Secretary for Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said Tuesday that it is “only a matter of time” before a “major incident or accident” occurs in the Indo-Pacific amid China’s “aggressive and irresponsible” behavior, saying that Beijing has “escalated tensions” with its neighbors in the region “at a pace unseen before.”
The warnings from the Pentagon come just days after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley directed his staff to collect information on interactions between the U.S. and Chinese militaries in the last five years.
Milley’s directive comes after the U.S. Navy sailed a destroyer close to China-controlled islands in the South China Sea in an operation intended to uphold “the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea.”
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The directive also comes as top intelligence community officials are warning of the threat Beijing poses to the U.S.
FBI Director Christopher Wray earlier this month said China poses the “biggest long-term threat” to U.S. economic and national security.
The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) also this month warned that state and local leaders are at “risk” of being “manipulated” to support “hidden” agendas by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as China seeks to target officials outside of Washington to lobby for Beijing-friendly policies at the federal level.
In April, CIA Director William Burns issued a similar warning to Wray’s — also noting that China has been “a silent partner” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
Burns, at the time, said China is “in many ways, the most profound tests the CIA has ever faced,” calling China a “formidable competitor lacking in neither ambition nor capability.”
With regard to the war in Ukraine, Biden administration officials have warned that they have “deep concerns” about China’s “alignment” with Russia.