Joe Biden calls Xi Jinping as U.S.-China relationship grows more fraught
WASHINGTON – President Biden met with China ‘s Xi Jinping _ on Thursday. This was amid growing dissatisfaction on the American side over the lack of high-level engagement between these two leaders in the early days of the Biden presidency.
Biden called Xi. This was the second call between the leaders of the two countries since Biden came to power. It comes at a moment when there is no shortage of thorny issues between the two nations, including cybersecurity breaches originating from China, Beijing‘s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and what the White House has labeled as “coercive and unfair” trade practices by the Chinese.
But Biden‘s aim with the 90-minute call was less focused on any of those hot-button issues and instead centered on discussing the way ahead for the U.S.-China relationship after it got off to a decidedly rocky start in his tenure.
The White House stated in a statement that the “two leaders had an extensive, strategic discussion in, in which they discussed areas in which our interests converge, as well as areas in which our values and perspectives differ .”
The White House hopes that the two sides will be able to work together on matters of mutual concern, including climate change and preventing a Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis.
Beijing, however, has pushed back against U.S. pressure and increasingly has suggested it could remain broadly uncooperative until Biden dials down criticism on what it deems Chinese internal matters.
” This is not in the fundamental interests of the two parties,” the Chinese leader stated, according to Xinhua.
“Chinese/U.S. confrontations will bring down both countries and to the world,” Xi said.
Xi stated that the two sides should collaborate on climate change and epidemic prevention, Xinhua reported.
A senior administration official stated that the White House was not satisfied with early engagements made with the Chinese.
The official spoke under the condition that anonymity was maintained. He said White House officials believed that Xi could benefit from hearing directly from Biden .
The White House official stated that he was not going to change his administration’s policy of pressing China human rights, trade, and other areas it believes China are acting outside of international norms.
Both sides have been blaming each other with recriminations in the beginning.
Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned Biden climate envoy John Kerry that deteriorating U.S.-China relations could undermine cooperation on climate change. Wang spoke to Kerry via video link while he was in Tianjin to discuss climate change with his Chinese counterparts. He said that such cooperation can’t be separated from the wider relationship and asked for the U.S., according to the Foreign Ministry.
In July, Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary, was subject to a series of complaints and demands. These included accusations that the U.S. wanted to stop China ”s development. Vice Foreign Minister XieFeng urged the U.S. to “change its highly misguided mindset, and dangerous policy
In March Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House national Security adviser Jake Sullivan had heated discussions with Yang Jiechi, chief foreign affairs officer for the Chinese Communist Party. They met in Anchorage with high-ranking Chinese officials. Yang accused the U.S.of failing to address its own human rights issues and took issue with American hypocrisy.
Administration officials believe that some of those high-profile meetings were more about entertaining a domestic audience via the press than delivering a message to the White House . The administration official stated that Biden stressed the importance of leaders being able to have private conversations with each other and be clear about their priorities.
Biden from the start of his presidency has sought to put greater focus on China, rallying allies to speak in a more unified voice about Beijing‘s human rights record, its trade practices and its military’s increasingly assertive behavior that has unnerved U.S. allies in the Pacific. He sees Beijing as the most significant economic competitor to the United States and a growing national security concern.
But, the president expressed hope that his long-standing working relationship with Xi – one that goes back to when he was Barack Obama’s vice presidential – could yield benefits in the two countries cooperating on critical issues. According to an administration official, they spent the time talking about their travels together as vice presidents.
The White House stated that the leaders of the call had agreed to talk “openly, straightforwardly” about issues in which the countries are at odds or where there is agreement.
McDonald reported from Beijing.
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