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Presidents Biden and Xi hold first phone call since change of US administration

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Thursday 11 Feb 2021

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held their first phone call since the change of administration in Washington on Thursday morning.
The phone call was held amid an atmosphere of tension between both sides as Xi warned that confrontation would be a disaster for all parties involved.

Biden offered his good wishes to Xi for the lunar new year but also raised concerns over a range of issues.

"President 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," the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

The Chinese leader maintained a hardline regarding Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which Xi told Biden were matters of "sovereignty and territorial integrity and that the US should "respect China's core interests and act cautiously", reported Reuters.

Xi told Biden that the two sides should re-establish the means to avoid misjudgments, according to the Chinese foreign ministry's account of the call.

Nonetheless, the US and Chinese read outs of the call did also mention areas for potential cooperation, with both honing in on climate change and fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

"President Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people's security, prosperity, health, and way of life, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific," the White House said in its public account of the discussion.

"You have said that America can be defined in one word: Possibilities. We hope the possibilities will now point toward an improvement of China-US relations," Xi told Biden, according to China's Foreign Ministry.

The Biden administration said it would continue to maintain pressure on China, although it pledged to take a more multilateral approach than its predecessor.