Biden says he expects to call Xi this week

This comes as ties between the two global superpowers continue to deteriorate over issues including Taiwan and Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday (July 26) he expects to speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week, but is waiting for confirmation.

Asked whether the long-awaited call would take place this week, Biden said: "That's my expectation, but I'll let you know when that gets set up."

Any potential conversation between the two presidents would come as ties between the two global superpowers continue to deteriorate over issues including Taiwan, Ukraine and technology sector competition.

Biden told reporters about the plan during a meeting with tech CEOs and labour leaders to discuss legislation to address the global microchip shortage, which the Democrat attended virtually as he isolates at the White House while recovering from Covid-19.

The chip shortage, exacerbated by coronavirus lockdowns in China, is hitting industries that rely on them for goods from cars to smartphones, and pushing inflation higher.

The Biden administration has framed efforts to boost semiconductor production in the United States as an issue of competition with China.

The Senate is expected to vote in the coming days on a funding bill to support the US tech industry's efforts to keep up.

Earlier on Monday, Beijing criticised a potential trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan next month.

It warned the United States would "bear all responsibility for all serious consequences" if she goes to the island.

Taiwan is a major exporter of semiconductors, and China claims the island as part of its territory.

Pelosi has not confirmed a visit but told reporters last week it is "important for us to show support for Taiwan," while denying Congress is pushing independence.

Xi sent a sympathy message to Biden last Friday over the US president's Covid-19 infection.

It was the two leaders' first public contact since their last virtual summit in March.

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