U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to agree on the partial reopening of military-to-military communication channels during their meeting later this week, a source close to the two countries' ties said Monday.
Biden is set to request the move and Xi is poised to accept, given that senior Chinese military officials have also supported the idea, as part of steps to avert miscalculations and reduce the risk of an inadvertent clash, according to the source.
Biden and Xi are scheduled to hold their first face-to-face meeting in a year on Wednesday when they are in San Francisco for this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Senior Biden administration officials have said that almost all topics deemed important for the bilateral relationship, many of which are contentious, from Taiwan and China's deepening ties with Russia to trade restrictions, will be discussed by the two leaders.
During the meeting, the source said, among many other issues, Biden and Xi may agree to restrict the military use of artificial intelligence that does not involve human oversight.
There has been concern that without certain restrictions, the use of the emerging technology could automatically or accidentally trigger a U.S.-China conflict.
On Monday, Biden's top security aide Jake Sullivan also voiced hope for progress toward restarting the communication channels with China when the two presidents sit together.
"There are also areas where we can more effectively manage competition, for example, by reestablishing military-to-military communications," Sullivan said in a press briefing in Washington.
Although the United States and China have increased communications at the level of senior officials in recent months, in an attempt to lay the groundwork for the Biden-Xi meeting, tensions between the world's two major powers stemming from their geopolitical rivalry have persisted.
High-level military communication channels between the two countries have been closed since China shut them down following a visit in August last year by then U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island Beijing claims as its own.
Biden and Xi previously met in November last year for three and a half hours during a Group of 20 summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
It was the first in-person meeting between the countries' presidents in more than three years. At that time, they agreed to facilitate high-level exchanges to manage their countries' intense competition.
But U.S.-China ties deteriorated markedly early this year after Biden ordered an alleged Chinese spy balloon to be shot down over the United States.
"Nothing stands still in the world," Sullivan said at the briefing. "There will be turbulence, as there always is, and the question is (whether we can) create the lines of communication and the broad parameters in the relationship so that through whatever comes we can manage competition responsibly."
"That's what the president has set out to achieve in this summit with President Xi," he said. "So he sees this not just as a one-off meeting, but as an important moment to be able to establish the kind of basis upon which we can proceed out into the future."