BEIJING: China on Friday condemned a White House plan to brief Taiwan on the results of a much-anticipated meeting between President Joe Biden and his counterpart, Xi Jinping, next week on the sidelines of a G20 gathering in Indonesia.

The two leaders will meet on Monday, the White House said, for their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president, amid low expectations for significant breakthroughs.

Ties between China and the United States are at their worst in decades, strained over issues including trade and technology, human rights and Taiwan. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced the plan to brief Taiwan about the talks on Thursday, telling reporters the United States aimed to make Taiwan feel “secure and comfortable” about US support.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said any such briefing by the United States for Taiwan would violate a US promise to maintain only non-official contacts with the island.

“It is egregious in nature. China is firmly opposed to it,” Zhao told a regular briefing, shortly after the ministry announced that Xi would meet Biden and also attend the G20 meeting and a later an Apec summit next week.

Several analysts have said both sides may use the talks to seek clarification on each other’s “red lines”, identify areas for cooperation and to stabilise relations, but significant progress is unlikely.

“I don’t think we can expect any breakthrough,” Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said.

“They are able to finally get to meet face to face and convey each other’s concerns to the other,” he said.

Biden and Xi last met in person when Biden was vice president during the Obama administration.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2022

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