MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us this evening. I want to kick us off with some ground rules. This call will be on background. The speaker will be referred to as a “senior administration official.” And the contents of this call are embargoed until Monday, November 15, at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Again, this call is on background, attributed to a “senior administration official,” embargoed until Monday, November 15th, at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
Now, not for reporting, but for your awareness, our speaker today is [senior administration official]. Again, by joining this call, you are agreeing to these ground rules and these terms, and our speaker will be hereinafter referred to as a “senior administration official.”
With that, I’ll turn it over to her for some opening remarks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. And thanks again to all of you for joining us this evening. As you’ve heard us say many times, the United States and the People’s Republic of China are engaged in stiff competition, and we believe that intense competition requires intense diplomacy. That’s why President Biden will meet with President Xi virtually on Monday evening, November 15th, Washington time.
First, I just want to spend a minute talking about the intense competition part and the context in which we are entering this meeting.
Since day one of his administration, President Biden has been making sure that we can outcompete China in the long term. And over the past 10 months, we’ve been making sure that the United States is playing our strongest possible hand. We’ve taken substantial steps to strengthen our competitive hand, primarily by investing in ourselves. To that end, just ahead of the meeting tomorrow, President Biden will sign into law a once- in-a-generation, bipartisan investment in our infrastructure.
We’re also aligning more closely with our allies and partners to take on the challenge that we face with China. The meeting that President Biden will have tomorrow with President Xi follows President Biden’s intensive and impactful diplomacy in recent weeks, including in person at COP 26 in Glasgow, at the G20 in Rome, and with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region through ASEAN, the Quad, and beyond. Together with our allies and partners, we are writing the rules of the road that reflect our interests and our values.
But second, let me move to the intense diplomacy part that follows, that is part of the — that’s part of our intense competition. You know, we believe that this leader-level meeting is important in order to responsibly manage the competition. And we think that that requires, again, leader-level engagement.
This engagement matters because it’s about setting the terms of the competition in two key areas: One, ensuring that the competition does not lead to conflict. As the President has said many times, we want to ensure that competition remains in that space. And he’s told a story about how his father always would say that the only thing worse than an intended conflict is an unintended one. We know, as a responsible global leader, that it’s important to keep channels of communication open. That’s why President Biden initiated this meeting. We want to make clear our intentions and our priorities to avoid misunderstandings.
The President will also make clear that we want to build commonsense guardrails to avoid miscalculation or misunderstanding. That’s how you sustain responsible competition.
Second, we also think that this meeting is — that the meeting and our intense diplomacy is about enforcing the rules of the road. This is an opportunity for President Biden to tell President Xi directly that he expects him to play by the rules of the road, which is what other responsible nations do.
On everything from technology to trade to international institutions and international waterways, we have concerns about the PRC’s behavior. And as a part of that, alongside our allies and partners, we are focused on writing and enforcing the rules of the road of the 21st century in a way that is favorable to our interests and our values and those of our allies and partners.
And, of course, we’re taking steps to enforce those rules when Beijing fails to uphold them in order to defend our interests and our values.
So I know a lot of you are probably wondering what do we hope to get out of this meeting. And I would just set that context in two different ways. The first: This meeting is about our ongoing efforts to responsibly manage the competition, not about agreeing to a specific deliverable or outcome. Setting the terms of the competition will be an ongoing effort, and this meeting between the two leaders is one step in that.
We also believe that leader-level engagement, particularly given the centralization of power in Xi Jinping’s hands, is essential to facilitating effective communication between our two governments.
Since the September 9th phone call between President Biden and President Xi, we’ve been able to have more substantive discussions in some areas, both where our interests align, as well as day-to-day bilateral issues where we continue to face challenges. And we’re looking to advance those discussions further through this meeting.