President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are preparing to speak within hours for the first time since the new administration took office in Washington last month, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The conversation between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies will take place as tensions remain high on issues including Beijing’s increasingly strict control over Hong Kong, trade, technology and human rights in Xinjiang. , among other topics.
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The call was organized after Biden spoke with many other counterparts around the world, including European and Asian allies and even Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Xi and Biden have vowed to find common ground where they can, including on issues like climate change. However, Biden and his team have made it clear that they intend to maintain the Trump administration’s most antagonistic approach to China, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing that China “represents the most significant challenge of any national state for the country. ” U.S. “
In a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday, Biden said he had directed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to establish a task force to review national security policy regarding China.
Blinken puts pressure on China’s human rights diplomat, Hong Kong (1)
Tensions between the United States and China did not ease during a recent call between Blinken and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, according to two people familiar with the matter. Chinese officials objected to what they said was too negative a tone to the American summary of the call, while Blinken’s team He felt The China reading put words into the secretary of state’s mouth about the “one China” policy with regard to Taiwan.
On the whole, China has approached the United States with caution since Biden’s election and Trump’s unprecedented campaign to challenge the outcome. While Xi sent Biden a congratulatory message in late November, he has not spoken to a sitting US president since last March.
Shortly after that last call, Washington and Beijing launched into a series of disputes that saw their relationship sink to its lowest point since the height of the Cold War. In recent months, the two nations have traded sanctions, expelled journalists, closed each other’s consulates and clashed over everything from Taiwan to the origins of the coronavirus.
Biden has met Xi repeatedly over the years, including as vice president, and until recently touted what he said was his friendship with the Chinese leader. He made a harsher assessment in the election campaign last year, calling Xi a “bully” who “doesn’t have a democratic bone, with a little ‘d’ on his body.”
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Trade with China will be one of Biden’s top economic priorities. China failed to meet its 2020 trade targets under the Trump administration’s “phase one” deal, buying just under 60% of the $ 172 billion in goods it said it would buy. That could lead to Biden renegotiating the deal, which will expire in a year.
The two countries have also clashed over technology, with the United States looking to slow the growth of Chinese tech champions. The Trump administration used export controls, entity lists, and executive orders to block businesses, including Huawei Technologies Co., chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., ByteDance Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. of US goods and consumers.
The democratically governed island state of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory, has also re-emerged as one of the biggest sticking points between the two sides. Trump oversaw a dramatic expansion of ties with Taipei, including a visit by then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar last August.
Chinese leaders generally look to their American counterparts to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the one-China policy. Trump recommitted to upholding the policy, which recognizes the People’s Republic as China’s only legal government, during his first call with Xi in 2017, and State Department spokesman Ned Price said in another briefing that the Biden administration will not change that position.
– With the assistance of Jenny Leonard