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Biden raises economy, rights abuses in call with Chinese President

Two leaders also discuss COVID, global health security, climate change and preventing weapons proliferation

Servet Gunerigok, Riyaz Ul Khaliq   | 11.02.2021
Biden raises economy, rights abuses in call with Chinese President [FILE PHOTO] - US President Joe Biden (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (R)


In his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Joe Biden voiced his concerns about Hong Kong and Xinjiang and discussed a range of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic.

During the phone conversation, Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people’s security, prosperity, health and way of life and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to a White House statement.

"President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan," said the statement.

The phone call came after Biden announced the formation of a Defense Department-wide China task force to deal with "growing challenges" by China.

"We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally," Biden told reporters during his first visit as president to the Pentagon.

Among the issues the two leaders exchanged views on were COVID-19 and the challenges of global health security, climate change and preventing weapons proliferation.

"President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies," said the statement.

According to the president, China is America’s "most serious competitor.”

Xi calls for joint efforts

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Xi invited the new US administration toward making "joint efforts in the same direction."

"Emphasizing that the China-U.S. relationship is currently at an important juncture, Xi said it is the common desire of both peoples and the wider international community to see the sound and stable development of China-U.S. relations," read the ministry statement.

"You have said that America can be defined in one word: Possibilities. We hope the possibilities will now point toward an improvement of China-U.S. relations," the statement cited Xi as telling Biden.

He said: “The restoration and growth of China-US relations has been the most important development in international relations over the past half century and more.”

“The two countries should make joint efforts in the same direction, follow the spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, focus on cooperation, manage their differences, and work for the sound and stable development of China-US relations,” Xi said in his bid to restore the bilateral relations with China.

'US-China confrontation to be disastrous'

“Confrontation between the two countries, however, will definitely be disastrous for both countries and the world,” the Chinese president said.

He suggested with cooperation, China and US can make their due contribution in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting world economic recovery and maintaining regional peace and stability.

“While the two sides may differ on some issues, it is crucial to show mutual respect, treat each other as equals, and properly manage and handle the differences in a constructive fashion,” he added, according to the ministry statement.

He proposed to the US president that Chinese and American foreign affairs departments “may have in-depth communications on wide-ranging matters in the bilateral relationship and major international and regional issues, and the economic, financial, law enforcement and military authorities of the two countries may also have more contacts.”

Besides, he called for reestablishing various dialogue mechanisms.

Xi told Biden that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang “are China's internal affairs and concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“The US side should respect China’s core interests and act prudently,” Xi insisted.

The Chinese president also pointed to the Asia-Pacific urging Biden that the two sides “should act to conform to the trend of the world, jointly safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

'US ready for dialogue'

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Biden said: “The US side is prepared to have candid and constructive dialogue with the Chinese side in the spirit of mutual respect and to improve mutual understanding and avoid miscommunication and miscalculation.”

After Biden’s tweet that he raised “coercion of Taiwan” with Xi, Taiwan welcomed the statement.

“We appreciate @POTUS @JoeBiden voicing concern over Beijing's coercion of Taiwan. We seek peace & stability in the region, consistent with our shared interests & values. Taiwan will continue to work with the US to be a force for good in the world,” Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu replied to Biden.

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