President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held their first telephone call on Wednesday night, engaging in a wide-ranging conversation during which Biden said he had notably raised the question of “human-rights abuse” by Beijing.
- Biden shared his “fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair practices, its crackdown in Hong Kong, reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” according to a summary of the call published by the White House.
- “I told [Xi] I will work with China when it benefits the American people,” Biden later said on Twitter TWTR, +1.17%.
- Xi in turn told Biden that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang were “domestic issues concerning the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to an official Chinese account of the conversation.
- “Confrontation […] is a disaster for both countries,” who should “properly manage their disputes in a constructive manner,” the Chinese president added.
- The Taiwanese government on Thursday expressed its “admiration and gratitude” for Biden.
The outlook: The two leaders could be expected to lay down their views in their first phone call — and more important, in the accounts of it they chose to publish. But Biden confirms the U.S. policy toward China is likely to remain on the hard-line side on most issues at hand.
The China Daily recalls that the two men had met head-to-head a decade ago in China when both were still their countries’ respective vice presidents. The least that can be added is that the bilateral context, both economic and political, has changed since then.