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Biden says he and China’s Xi to talk ‘soon,’ weighing tariffs

June 18, 2022 Updated Sat., June 18, 2022 at 9 p.m.

President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)  (Alex Wong/Getty Images North America/TNS)
President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS) (Alex Wong/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Jenny Leonard Bloomberg News

President Joe Biden said he’ll be talking to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “soon” and is weighing possible action on U.S. tariffs on China that were imposed by the Trump administration.

“We’re in the process of doing that,” Biden told reporters on Saturday when asked whether he had decided to lift any of the tariffs. “I’m in the process of making up my mind.”

Biden’s administration is weighing what to do about former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on some $300 billion of goods imported from the U.S. economy’s biggest competitor. While some businesses have benefited from protection from Chinese imports, companies that use the goods as inputs in areas including manufacturing have been hurt.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers last week the Biden administration is looking to “reconfigure” the tariffs and acknowledged that they were contributing to higher prices for goods with U.S. inflation running at the hottest pace in 40 years.

Biden declined to say when specifically he’d talk to Xi, saying only, “I’m going to be talking to him.”

U.S. officials are working to set up a possible call this summer as tensions run high between the world’s two biggest economies, including on Taiwan, Ukraine and human rights matters.

U.S.-China relations are likely in the worst state since former President Richard Nixon’s historic trip in 1972 helped reestablish diplomatic ties between Washington and Beijing, Nicholas Burns, the U.S. envoy, said earlier this month.

One person familiar with planning said a potential summer call could come as soon as July, but any in-person meeting of the two leaders would wait until after China’s Communist Party congress late in the year. Xi, who is seeking to secure a third term as China’s leader, has also halted international travel since COVID-19 emerged more than two years ago.

In a sign that leaders are trying to keep high-level communications open, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, met Monday in Luxembourg for more than four hours.

They had a “candid, substantive, and productive discussion of a number of regional and global security issues, as well as key issues in U.S.-China relations,” according to a White House statement.

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