Biden worries with Chinese president in first official phone call

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Washington – President Joe Biden spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping by phone on Wednesday evening for the first time since assuming office, according to the White House.

According to a White House statement, Biden raised his “basic concerns” about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices, rifts in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly vocal actions in the region, including Taiwan.”

The statement said the two leaders discussed combating the Kovid-19 epidemic, and “shared challenges of global health security, climate change and preventing the spread of weapons.”

Officials said Biden also hoped that the two leaders could cooperate on issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and climate change.

The president does not have plans at this time to lift tariffs on China imposed by the Trump administration, senior administration officials said before the call, and he is unlikely to reduce the US military presence in Asia as former President Donald Trump threatened Was given to do during his time in office.

Officials said the call between leaders of the world’s two largest economies came three weeks after Biden’s inauguration, after reviewing key elements of US policy toward China during the Trump administration and extensive consultation with US allies. One of them described Biden as “in a strong position” having a solid conversation with Xi.

Chinese President Xi Jinping joined hands with Joe Biden in 2013 in Beijing.Lintao Zhang / Pool via Reuters file

Officials said the phone call was intended to signal a new US strategy that is a key tenet of the Trump administration’s policy – intense competition – but employs a dramatically different approach.

“We saw what the Trump administration did in four years and found merit in the original proposal of a deeper strategic competition with China and required us to engage strictly in every instrument of our government and every instrument of the system.” Power, ”a senior administrative officer said. “But the way the Trump administration did that contest, we got into deeper problems.”

Officials said one difference in Biden’s approach would be the emphasis on engaging with American allies, both in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. For example, Biden is expected to participate in international forums for countries in the region, such as the Organization of Southeast Asian Countries and the East Asia Summit, although it is unclear whether his presence will be epidemic. For example, former President Obama regularly attended the ASEAN summit, although Trump left it after his first year in office.

A second senior administration official said that America’s partners in Asia have expressed concern about recent US actions, including the unpredictability of the Trump administration and “strange interactions with North Korea.”

Officials were also acknowledging that Biden’s China policy is not a continuation of Trump, stating that he was not criticizing the harshness of his predecessor’s China approach, but rather that he “does so alone while fighting our allies and partners” having had.”

Review of US policy on China continues in several areas, including a Pentagon effort announced Wednesday and a study of the Trump administration’s charges.

Biden will decide on the tariffs after extensive consultation with agencies in his administration and with American partners in Asia and Europe – something senior administration officials said “is going to take some time.”

“There will be changes in trade policy towards China,” the official said. “And meanwhile we are not raising tariffs.”

The Biden administration’s policies issued by the Trump administration include restricting China’s access to certain types of sensitive technology, though officials said new restrictions on such exports would be imposed in conjunction with US allies.

Officials said Biden did not plan to raise the issue of Beijing hosting the 2022 Olympics.

Biden first came to know as Xi’s vice president when it was clear that Xi would rise to the presidency. A senior administration official said Biden said in a phone call “practical, rigorous, clear-sighted.”

“He has apparently spent a lot of time with Xi Jinping,” a senior administration official said of Biden. “The two leaders know each other very well.”

The strategy that Biden had adopted for China, the official said, “will not play during days or weeks or months, it will last for years.”

“That doesn’t mean there’s no urgency,” the official said. “There is urgency and we are working immediately. But it also means that we need to grapple with it, and we need to play the long game. “

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