Thursday February 11, 2021
First phone call from the heads of state
Biden pushes, Xi warns
After the change of power in the White House, US President Biden and China’s President Xi spoke to each other for the first time – but no trace of relaxed tones. Both sides emphasize the will to enter into dialogue. In many questions, however, they are still at odds.
In his first phone call with China’s head of state Xi Jinping, the new US President Joe Biden indicated that the US was continuing to take a tough stance towards China. In return, the Chinese president warned him of a “confrontation” that “is definitely catastrophic for both countries and the world,” the state agency Xinhua reported. Speaking about three weeks after taking office, Biden underscored his “fundamental concerns about Beijing’s forced and unfair economic practices, repression in Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang and increasingly challenging actions in the region, including against Taiwan,” the White House said.
China’s president countered that Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang were “China’s internal affairs” and had to do with its sovereignty and territorial integrity. “ The US should respect China’s core interests and act cautiously.” According to the US, both heads of state also spoke about the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and the common challenges for global health, climate change and preventing the proliferation of weapons.
Biden also campaigned for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. China claims large parts of the controversial South China Sea, where the United States is campaigning for freedom of navigation with its navy. For the Chinese New Year, which in China is welcomed on Friday night according to the traditional lunar calendar, the US President also conveyed his congratulations to the Chinese people in the phone call with Xi Jinping.
Xi wants to restore channels of dialogue
Under Donald Trump, the relationship between the two largest economies has fallen to its lowest level since diplomatic relations began in 1979. Both countries are fighting a bitter trade war. The US is also restricting China’s access to technology. The course critical of China finds cross-party approval in the US Congress. Biden had already indicated that he wanted to drive a tough course as well. China’s president said both countries should work together, meet halfway and avoid confrontation. Differences are normal.
Xi Jinping also spoke out in favor of “restoring” the various channels of dialogue between the two countries in order to promote better understanding and avoid misunderstandings. In addition to diplomatic channels, the Chinese president also mentioned an expansion of contacts in business, finance, law enforcement and between the two armed forces.