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World Biden presses Xi on HK, Xinjiang in first phone call

07:37  11 february  2021
07:37  11 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Joe Biden has affirmed the US’s tough line on China’s human rights abuses and regional expansionism in his first phone call with president Xi Jinping since taking office. The call came just hours after the announcement of Biden ’s establishment of a Pentagon task force on China and a senior state department official meeting in person I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people.” A White House account of the conversation said Biden also raised the crackdown in Hong Kong and human rights abuses in Xinjiang , and China’s “increasingly assertive actions in the region”.

Joe Biden pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping over human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang late Wednesday in their first call since the new US president took office on January 20, according to the White House. Setting the stage for what could extend the contentious relationship between the two superpowers, Biden offered Xi his "greetings and wellwishes" for the Chinese people on the occasion of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the White House said in a statement.

Joe Biden pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping over human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang late Wednesday in their first call since the new US president took office on January 20, according to the White House.

Xi Jinping in a suit and tie: Then-Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast each other in 2015; late Wednesday Biden had his first phone call as US president with Xi. © Paul J. RICHARDS Then-Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast each other in 2015; late Wednesday Biden had his first phone call as US president with Xi.

Setting the stage for what could extend the contentious relationship between the two superpowers, Biden offered Xi his "greetings and wellwishes" for the Chinese people on the occasion of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the White House said in a statement.

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“The president will raise [ Hong Kong and Xinjiang ] directly with Xi Jinping on the call . . . and indicate that this is not just about American values, it’s about universal values,” the official said. “It is about obligations that China itself has signed on to with respect to core international agreements.” Biden 's secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, angered the Chinese last month when speaking to his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, in the first high-level interaction between the countries since Biden became president, Blinken said the US viewed the detention of an estimated 1 million Muslim Uighurs in

US President Joe Biden has raised China's "coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong and human rights abuses in Xinjiang " in his first call with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping, according to a readout of the call provided by the White House. "The two leaders also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation", the statement said. It was the first call between Mr Xi and a US president since the Chinese leader spoke with then-president

But, laying his own groundwork for Washington-Beijing ties after four tumultuous years under predecessor Donald Trump, Biden immediately challenged his counterpart over China's projection of power in the Indo-Pacific region, the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and the oppressive treatment of millions of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.

a boat is docked next to a body of water: The US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea in 2018: the new administration of President Joe Biden intends to continue challenging China's territorial claims in the region © TED ALJIBE The US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea in 2018: the new administration of President Joe Biden intends to continue challenging China's territorial claims in the region

In the call Biden told Xi that his priorities were to protect the American people's security, prosperity, health and way of life, and to preserve "a free and open Indo-Pacific," the White House said in a statement on the call.

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a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, marking the first call between the two state leaders after Biden took office China’s Xi : Tells Biden Confrontation Between China, US Disaster For Both Countries – State TV Hopes US Cautiously Handles Matters To Taiwan, HK , Xinjiang . I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people. tweet at 9:31pm: President Biden has spoken with Chinese President Xi for the first time since taking office, raising "fundamental concerns" about Beijing's economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong , and human rights abuses, the White

US President Joe Biden expressed concerns to Chinese leader Xi Jinping about human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang late Wednesday in their first call since Biden took office on January 20, according to the White House. Biden offered Xi his "greetings and well wishes" to the Chinese people on the He also "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," it said. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by

Specifically, 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," it said.

The two leaders also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and weapons proliferation.

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

In Beijing officials confirmed the phone call, with state media reporting simply that the two sides "exchanged in-depth views on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues."

- Trump's unilateral approach -

It was not Biden's first interaction with Xi; the two met when Biden was vice president in the 2009-2017 administration of president Barack Obama.

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First phone call between the two leaders is expected to provide a signal of how Biden administration will approach the relationship. US President Joe Biden has spoken to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the eve of the Lunar New Year.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has congratulated Joe Biden on winning the US election, leaving just a handful of world leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who have not recognised Biden ’s win. Chinese state media said that Xi told Biden he hoped the two countries would “uphold the spirit of non-conflict In the past four years the US and China have feuded over trade, visas for journalists and diplomats, the coronavirus, human rights abuses in Xinjiang , the crackdown in Hong Kong , and the US’s growing friendship with Taiwan. Trump has overseen diplomatic, trade and economic sanctions

But Biden used the phone call to set his own tone for bilateral relations, which became deeply strained under Trump.

Trump took strong unilateral trade actions against China in an unsuccessful effort to close the US trade deficit with the country.


Video: Biden signals US will refocus on diplomacy abroad (USA TODAY)

His administration also aggressively challenged China's offshore territorial claims, and punished Chinese industry and researchers for  allegedly stealing technology.

Relations soured even further beginning a year ago when Trump accused Beijing of hiding the origin of the coronavirus, which has now killed more than 470,000 Americans.

- Rebuilding alliances -

Speaking on grounds of anonymity, a senior Biden administration official said the new president felt he was in a strong position to advance US interests with Xi.

While Trump severed relations with longstanding allies for a go-it-alone approach to Beijing, Biden has used his first three weeks in office to rebuild those relationships as a basis for a more collective approach.

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Another US official said that Biden "found merit" in Trump's approach of intense strategic competition towards China.

There is a need to assume that approach in every facet of the bilateral relationship, with every instrument of US power.

On the other hand, the official said, Trump's eschewing partners and his chaotic implementation of policy fell into China's hands.

In his first weeks in office Biden's administration reaffirmed its support for Taiwan and for Japan's territorial claim on the Senkaku Islands, which China calls the Diaoyu islands.

- Tariffs to remain in place -

In a visit to the Pentagon earlier Wednesday, Biden made clear he would not ease off militarily on China. He announced a new Defense Department task force on China which would quickly review all facets of the US security approach to the country.

"We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally," Biden said.

The administration officials said that Washington would continue to apply targeted sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities for intellectual property theft, and tighten China's access to sensitive technologies.

But, they emphasized, the approach will be to work in concert with allies.

They also said that Biden would not move quickly to change the hefty tariffs Trump placed on imports from China.

Any changes to US trade policy "will not be immediate, and in the meantime we are not lifting the tariffs," said one official.

"We will keep them in place until we are ready to roll out with an affirmative trade strategy" that can be executed with allies, the official said.

pmh/caw

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