Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets with Biden and White House Officials in Washington

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets with Biden and White House Officials in Washington
US President Joe Biden receives Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the White House (Xinhua)

The Lede: China’s top diplomat and foreign minister Wang Yi visited Washington over three days this week as the two superpowers maintain heightened high-level communication and dialogue. A highly anticipated Biden-Xi meeting next month was also confirmed during Wang’s visit. 

What We Know:

  • Wang’s visit from October 26-28 included meetings with top White House officials. According to Biden administration spokesman John Kirby, Wang met with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan were also present. Biden’s meeting with Wang had been expected as a reciprocal action after Xi met with Blinken while the Secretary of State was visiting China in June.
  • Wang and U.S. officials discussed the thorny topics of China’s support for Russia in the war against Ukraine and positions on the war between Israel and Hamas. The U.S. expressed the desire for Beijing to use its leverage with Iran to influence the conflict. During his visit to Washington, Wang also is expected to discuss Taiwan.
  • The visit comes ahead of next month’s meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco, where Xi and Biden are slated to meet. The two sides have not yet worked out details on the exact day of the meeting, venue, or other logistics.

The Background: Wang’s visit comes as ties between the two superpowers are strained due to export controls on advanced technologies and resources, as well as tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. reiterated a warning that it would defend the Philippines under a bilateral security pact after Chinese and Filipino vessels collided in disrupted waters in the South China Sea. Before departing for Washington, Wang attended a meeting in Beijing between Xi and California Governor Gavin Newsom. Both leaders emphasized the importance of improving U.S.-China ties.

Likely Outcomes:

  • Wang’s visit and meetings with top U.S. officials have given a fresh opportunity for both countries to reiterate their commitments to shoring up dialogue and communication, especially on more current topics such as the Middle East conflict and the recent incident in the South China Sea. However, Wang’s visit mostly serves the purpose of reciprocating Xi’s June meeting with Blinken in Beijing and putting forth effort toward the expected Biden-Xi meeting next month. 
  • Although the leaders continue to characterize these high-level meetings as substantive and productive, there has not yet been evident progress on the most sensitive issues burdening the bilateral relationship. These meetings are valuable insofar as they maintain and manage a status quo such that the precarious rivalry does not spin out of control. The conclusion of some significant policy move or deal at the expected meeting between Biden and Xi would be useful in solidifying the possible goodwill 


“We have disagreements; we have differences. At the same time, we also share important common interests, and we face challenges that we need to respond to together. Therefore, China and the United States need to have dialogue.” – Wang, Yi, foreign minister and top diplomat of China

“Wang is here to pave the ground for Xi’s San Francisco visit. That’s the core focus of the trip. It means issues will be negotiated, solutions will be discussed and details will be deliberated and inked. His trip means that Xi is coming. Xi’s coming means a meeting with Biden. A Xi-Biden meeting means efforts to stabilize bilateral ties.” – Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center

“With the U.S. election next year, resistance to improving Sino-U.S. relations will become stronger. There will be few opportunities to improve Sino-U.S. relations next year, so things must be done this year.” – Zhao Minghao, a professor at Fudan University’s Center for American Studies

“Both countries have an interest in [Middle East] regional stability. But China cannot project any military power in the region, and it has no interest in doing so. It is a vocal bystander criticizing the West and calling for peace.” – Moritz Rudolf, a research scholar at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center

Good Reads:

China’s foreign minister is in Washington. That counts as progress (The Washington Post)

China’s foreign minister in Washington to pave way for Xi (Radio Free Asia)

Biden talks with Chinese foreign minister as he prepares for potential meeting with Xi (AP)

Blinken, Sullivan meet with China's top diplomat Wang Yi in Washington amid tensions (ABC)