Blunt US rhetoric heading into President Joe Biden’s call with Chinese President Xi Jinping suggests that a meeting of the minds on Russia’s brutality in Ukraine is unlikely, and reflects the current bitter tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Biden and Xi are due to speak at 9 a.m. ET Friday, with the US setting the stage for a stern warning that Chinese firms would pay a serious price if the Beijing government heeds Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pleas for military and economic aid. The call will find the US surmounting one of its deepest-set foreign policy fears — risking an open clash with China while simultaneously facing down Russia — in another extraordinary geopolitical shuffle triggered by the Ukraine war. It also puts Biden in the odd position of seeking the tacit cooperation of the nation seen as America’s most powerful rising foe to suppress its historic Cold War rival of the second half of the 20th century.