Biden and Xi converse for first time since November summit amid international tensions

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Photos

US President Joe Biden and Chinese language President Xi Jinping stroll collectively after a gathering through the Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, California on November 15, 2023.


President Joe Biden spoke on the cellphone with Chinese language President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, marking the primary dialog between the leaders since their historic in-person summit in November and the newest in ongoing efforts by US and Chinese language officers to defuse tensions between the 2 superpowers.

The decision comes amid heavy international turbulence – the continuing wars in Gaza and Ukraine, in addition to North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, had been subjects of debate. Different points which have strained the Washington-Beijing relationship additionally got here up, together with Taiwan, China’s current provocations within the South China Sea and Beijing’s human rights abuses.

The 2 leaders additionally mentioned quite a few points the place US and Chinese language officers see room for cooperation, together with countering narcotics, the fast-developing world of synthetic intelligence and local weather change, in line with a White Home readout.

The White Home described the one-hour-45-minute dialog as “candid and constructive” on a spread of points on which the leaders agreed and disagreed. Biden careworn the necessity to preserve “peace and stability” throughout the Taiwan Strait and he additionally raised his considerations over China’s assist for Russia’s protection business, the White Home added.

Biden additionally famous his worries about China’s commerce techniques that the White Home stated hurt American employees and emphasised that the US will do what it should to stop “superior US applied sciences from getting used to undermine our nationwide safety, with out unduly limiting commerce and funding.”

“The 2 leaders welcomed ongoing efforts to keep up open channels of communication and responsibly handle the connection via high-level diplomacy and working-level consultations within the weeks and months forward,” the readout acknowledged, noting Secretary of State Antony Blinken will journey to China.

The Biden-Xi chat represents a follow-through on a easy dedication that Biden made publicly after assembly with Xi for a number of hours in Woodside, California, final fall: That, shifting ahead, the 2 leaders would choose up the cellphone and name one another extra typically, with a watch in the direction of stopping doubtlessly harmful misunderstandings between two of probably the most highly effective nations on the planet.

A senior administration official previewing the decision was fast to notice that regardless of the good lengths to which each nations have gone to during the last yr to de-escalate historic excessive tensions in US-China relations, a phrase Biden had uttered after his summit with Xi nonetheless stays operable: “Belief however confirm.”

“I don’t suppose we ever actually take the Chinese language at their phrase after they say they may or won’t do one thing. It’s about verifying, because the president says,” the official advised CNN when requested about Xi’s pledge that Beijing won’t intervene within the US’ 2024 election. “Verifying the outcomes we see, the actions we see, after which persevering with to underscore and press on what our considerations are.”

That fraught dynamic was underscored throughout November’s summit when Biden – after underscoring the constructive nature of his assembly with Xi – advised a CNN reporter that he would nonetheless discuss with the Chinese language chief as a dictator. The label, which Biden had beforehand used to explain Xi, rapidly drew the ire of the Chinese language authorities, and marked a clumsy finish to what was a momentous assembly between the 2 leaders.

The Biden administration plans to proceed stressing to Beijing the US’ grave considerations about Chinese language efforts to hack US essential infrastructure, the official stated.

CNN reported solely in January that Xi had advised Biden after they met in November that China wouldn’t intervene within the US presidential election, and that that assurance had additionally been reiterated by the Chinese language international minister to Biden’s nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan.

Biden and Xi additionally deliberate to look at a few of the bulletins that had come out of their California summit final yr, together with the re-establishment of the 2 nations’ military-to-military communications and their pledge to work collectively to curb the manufacturing of fentanyl. The dialog was meant to function a “examine in” on the progress made during the last yr in these areas, the official stated.

Biden was additionally anticipated to handle China’s assist for Russia over its continued struggle in Ukraine on Tuesday’s name, on the heels of Xi’s current pledge to “strengthen strategic coordination” between China and Russia on a name with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this yr.

And whereas China has shied away from publicly offering deadly support to Russia to help in its invasion of Ukraine, the official warned that China’s assist for Russia has allowed the nation “to rebuild Russia’s protection industrial base, primarily backfilling the commerce from European companions.”

“China, after all, is a sovereign nation, it should make its personal choices about its relationships, however fairly involved in regards to the route of journey on this one, and I’m sure it should come up,” the official stated Monday.

Biden and Xi final spoke on the cellphone in July 2022.

“We’d hope there can be an opportunity for one more in-person assembly” within the close to future, the senior administration official stated.

In a big mark of the Biden administration’s ongoing engagement with Beijing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to go to China later this week, the place she’ll meet along with her Chinese language counterparts in her second go to to the nation as Treasury secretary.

Yellen is scheduled to make two stops, touring to Guangzhou and Beijing, for conferences with economists, college students and members of the enterprise neighborhood. A Treasury official advised reporters Monday she deliberate to have frank discussions on what the administration considers “unfair” commerce practices from China.

The Treasury secretary has vocally warned of the risk China’s overcapacity poses to the worldwide economic system, however has additionally cautioned that decoupling with the manufacturing juggernaut can be “disastrous” for the US.

Along with Yellen, different US officers have spoken with their Chinese language counterparts in 2024, demonstrating simply how essential the administration sees its bilateral relationship with the nation.

In January, Sullivan met with the Chinese language international minister in Bangkok, and Blinken met with the Chinese language official in Munich in February. Blinken can also be set to journey to China himself “within the coming weeks,” the senior administration official advised reporters Monday, whereas Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin is predicted to take part in a name with China’s minister of protection “quickly.”

This story has been up to date with extra developments on Tuesday.

CNN’s Sam Fossum and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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