Sept 10, 2021: US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have spoken on the phone, ending a nearly seven-month gap in direct contact between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies.
The call was confirmed by the White House and Chinese state media, according to which the two spoke on Friday morning.
According to the White House, the call, which lasted about 90 minutes, focused on finding a way to move US-China relations forward. The two discussed “areas where our interests meet, and areas where our interests, values and perspectives differ,” the statement said.
Biden began the call with XI, the second call between the two leaders since Biden took office in January. It comes at a time when the two countries are battling corona virus pandemics, human rights and growing trade differences, but are sharing issues of mutual concern, including climate change.
Chinese state media described the talks as “open” and “deep”, adding that President Xi had said that US policy on China posed “significant difficulties” in their relations.
The Chinese report added that the two sides agreed to maintain regular contact. Ahead of the call, a senior administration official said the White House was dissatisfied with initial engagements with Beijing.
The White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said White House officials were hopeful that a direct hearing from Biden would be helpful.
A White House official said Biden had made it clear to Xi that he had no intention of deviating from his administration’s policy of pressuring China on human rights and other issues, where he believed China was acting in violation of international norms.
Last week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, that deteriorating US-China relations could jeopardize his cooperation on climate change.
According to the State Department, Wang told Kerry, who is visiting Tianjin for climate talks with his Chinese counterparts, via video link, that such cooperation could not be separated from the broader relationship, and that he had called for steps to be taken to improve relations.
In July, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman faced a long list of demands and complaints, including allegations that the United States was trying to stifle China’s development. Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Feng urged the United States to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy.
During the call, Biden’s message was that his administration wanted to ensure that “there is active competition and that we do not have a situation in our future where we are the victim of unintentional conflict.”
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