Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived on Monday for the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, after nearly three years of self-imposed pandemic isolation.
Having secured an ill-conceived third term as Communist Party leader, Xi will have the wind in his back as he prepares to meet a series of dignitaries on what is his second overseas trip since early 2020.
Here’s a rundown of Xi’s confirmed meetings this week — and what’s at stake:
On Monday afternoon, Xi met US President Joe Biden for their first personal talks since the US leader’s election and the first China-US summit since 2019.
The rivalry between the world’s two largest economies has intensified sharply, with Beijing becoming more powerful and determined to outpace the US-led global order that has prevailed for decades.
The two have spoken on the phone five times since Biden took office last year.
Biden is expected to push China to rein in its ally North Korea after a record series of missile tests.
But the biggest sticking point remains Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by Beijing.
After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, China conducted large-scale military exercises in an unprecedented show of intimidation and canceled several cooperation projects between the US and China.
US officials have since said they believe China has accelerated its timetable to seize the island, and Biden has suggested — in comments later retracted — that Washington would support Taiwan militarily if attacked.
– Anthony Albanese –
Xi will meet Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday, in the first leaders-level meeting between the two countries since 2019.
It’s another highly anticipated meeting, as both sides will look to repair relations after they deteriorated rapidly in the early days of the pandemic.
Canberra has criticized Beijing for its apparent lack of transparency on the origins of the Covid pandemic, prompting China to freeze ministerial contact and impose trade embargoes on several Australian goods.
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China is Australia’s largest trading partner, and Albanese urged Beijing to lift trade sanctions shortly after he installed his new centre-left government in May.
But actions by Australia to strengthen security and defense ties with other NATO members have angered China, and the two countries are now vying for influence over Pacific island states long neglected by the West.
Quickly on the heels of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Beijing this month, Beijing confirmed a meeting between Xi and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, took place in Bali.
Macron will no doubt feel pressure to deliver on Ukraine, after Schulze made Xi declare that China opposes the use of nuclear weapons — a rare acknowledgment because Beijing usually does not publicly criticize its ally Russia’s actions.
Macron will also seek to shore up deteriorating relations between China and the European Union, after a tense call between Xi and EU leaders in April that was later described as a “deaf dialogue”.
In return, Xi will want to secure more trade cooperation with France and seek to distance Europe from the United States.
– Joko Widodo –
Indonesian officials have confirmed that Xi will meet President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, during his stay from Monday to Thursday.
After eight years in power, the Indonesian leader is looking to boost his international influence, trying to negotiate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
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He last visited China in July, after having multiple phone calls with Xi during the pandemic.
Jokowi will want to boost economic ties with his country’s largest trading partner, but a major Chinese-financed railway has been plagued by construction delays and concerns about excessive debt to China.
– Fumio Kishida –
Xi will meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday at the APEC summit in Bangkok.
Sino-Japanese relations have fallen into a tailspin after Tokyo took a harder line on security issues including Taiwan and China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and moved closer to Washington.
But Tokyo still needs Beijing’s help on the North Korean nuclear issue, despite China’s reluctance to use stronger measures against its volatile neighbor.