WASHINGTON—President Biden’s China policy, a mix of confrontation and cooperation, will face a stress test when he meets virtually Monday evening with President Xi Jinping, as the leaders attempt to build on signs of easing hostility.

The bilateral conversation will be their third since Mr. Biden took office in January and comes as the Chinese leader seeks to extend his rule over the world’s most populous nation. The sides set modest expectations and don’t anticipate concrete outcomes. Broadly, Mr. Biden and his team have settled on a strategy of managing the relationship through what they call “intense diplomacy.”

“The Biden administration is not trying to change China through bilateral engagement—we don’t think that’s realistic,” a senior administration official said. “We’re trying to shape the international environment in a way that is favorable to us and our allies and partners.”

Building off a surprise joint declaration in Glasgow last week pledging cooperation on a transition to cleaner energy, Mr. Biden is expected to seek accord on issues including nuclear proliferation and health amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House views him as entering Monday’s meeting with a strong hand. Earlier in the day, Mr. Biden is scheduled to sign a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that he views as essential in keeping up with China’s own domestic investments.

An expanded version of this story appears on WSJ.com.

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