BIDEN TELLS XI: RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS, END ABUSES IN SCS
US President Joe Biden spoke to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday, his first direct contact with the leader of the world’s second-largest economy since winning the November presidential election and taking office last month, David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina reported for Reuters.
It was the first call between Xi and a US president since the Chinese leader spoke with former President Donald Trump in March last year. Since then, relations between the two countries have plunged to their worst level in decades.
Biden told Xi it was a US priority to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region and underscored his “fundamental concerns about China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions toward Taiwan,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden and Xi also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on the shared challenges of climate change and preventing weapons proliferation - a reference to the US desire to cooperate with Beijing in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, the White House said.
A senior Biden administration official told reporters ahead of the call Biden would be “practical, hard-headed, clear-eyed” in dealings with Xi, but wanted to ensure the two of them had the opportunity to have an open line of communication, despite US concerns about Chinese behavior. Xi said continuing tensions and disputes between China and the US would be destructive to both parties.