China’s President Xi Jinping arrived Monday for the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, after almost three years of self-imposed pandemic seclusion.
Fresh from securing a norm-breaking third term as Communist Party leader, Xi will have the wind at his back as he prepares to meet a string of powerful dignitaries in what is only his second overseas trip since early 2020.
Here is a rundown of Xi’s confirmed meetings this week — and what’s at stake:
– Joe Biden –
On Monday afternoon, Xi met US President Joe Biden for their first in-person talks since the US leader was elected and the first China-US summit since 2019.
Rivalry between the world’s top two economies has intensified sharply, as Beijing has become more powerful and determined to surpass the US-led global order that has prevailed for decades.
The two have spoken by phone five times since Biden took office last year.
Biden is expected to push China to rein in ally North Korea after a record-breaking spate of missile tests.
But the biggest sticking point remains Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.
After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, China staged large-scale military drills in an unprecedented show of intimidation and cancelled multiple US-China cooperation projects.
US officials have since said they believe China has accelerated its timeline to seize the island, and Biden has suggested — in comments later rowed back — that Washington would support Taiwan militarily if it were attacked.
– Anthony Albanese –
Xi will meet Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese Tuesday, in the first leader-level meeting between both countries since 2019.
It is another highly anticipated meeting, in which both sides will be looking to mend ties after they rapidly deteriorated in the early days of the pandemic.
Canberra had criticised Beijing for its apparent lack of transparency about the origins of the Covid pandemic, leading China to freeze ministerial contact and impose trade embargos on several Australian goods.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner, and Albanese urged Beijing to lift trade sanctions shortly after ushering in his new centre-left government in May.
But Australia’s actions to bolster security and defence ties with other NATO members have angered China, and both countries are currently competing for influence over Pacific Island countries long neglected by the West.
– Emmanuel Macron –
Swift 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 in Bali.
Macron will undoubtedly feel pressure to deliver on Ukraine, after Scholz got Xi to declare that China opposes the use of nuclear weapons — a rare admission as Beijing typically does not openly criticise the actions of its ally Russia.
Macron will also be looking to shore up deteriorating ties between China and the European Union, after a tense call between Xi and EU leaders in April later described as a “dialogue of the deaf”.
In return, Xi will want to secure further trade cooperation with France and seek to distance Europe from the United States.
– Joko Widodo –
Indonesian officials have confirmed that Xi will meet with President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, during his stay from Monday to Thursday.
After eight years of rule, the Indonesian leader is looking to boost his international clout, attempting to negotiate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
He last visited China in July, having had multiple phone calls with Xi during the pandemic.
Jokowi will want to boost economic ties with his country’s biggest trading partner, but a major China-funded railway is beset with construction delays and concerns over excessive debt to China.
– Fumio Kishida –
Xi will meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday at the APEC summit in Bangkok.
China-Japan relations are at a low ebb after Tokyo took a more hawkish stance over security issues including Taiwan and China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and edged closer to Washington.
But Tokyo still needs Beijing’s assistance on the North Korean nuclear issue, despite China’s reluctance to use stronger measures on its volatile neighbour.