US President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping by phone on Thursday, both acknowledging their responsibility to ensure that “competition” between their respective countries “does not lead to conflict.” The conversation was the second held by the leaders of both powers since Biden came to power last January, after the lengthy telephone conversation they shared in February, and coincides with strong tensions in the bilateral relationship.
“The two leaders had a broad and strategic discussion in which they discussed issues in which our interests converge, and areas in which our interests, values and perspectives diverge,” the White House said in a statement. Both “agreed to interact openly and directly on all these issues,” adds the statement, issued late Thursday in Washington, when it was already Friday morning in Beijing. It was Biden who made the decision to call Xi, and he did so motivated by his “exasperation” over the alleged reluctance of lower-ranking Chinese officials to hold serious talks with his government, an official US source told Efe.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited China in July to meet with her counterpart, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, but that meeting turned out to be unsuccessful and the diplomat returned to Washington feeling that her interlocutors were they had simply reiterated their positions, without negotiating. Thursday’s call was a test to see if talks at the highest possible level are more effective, given the consolidation of power around Xi, a senior US official told CBS News.
The White House was more diplomatic in its statement, and limited itself to indicating that Biden called Xi as part of the “effort that the United States maintains to responsibly manage the competition” with China. “President Biden underscored America’s enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world; and the two leaders addressed the responsibility of both nations to ensure that the competition does not lead to conflict ”, concludes the note.
The White House did not offer details on the specific issues addressed by both leaders, but on other occasions, the Biden administration has identified the climate crisis and the prevention of tensions on the Korean peninsula as two issues in which both powers have common interests. . The list of disagreements is much longer, and far from being contained, bilateral tension has increased since the coming to power of Biden, who has made competition with Beijing the central pillar of his foreign and trade policy. In recent months, the relationship has been hurt by the United States’ accusation that China was behind the global cyberattack against Microsoft in March, something that Beijing has flatly denied.
In addition, friction has grown in the wake of the United States’ warnings to American companies not to do business with entities operating in Hong Kong or in China’s northwest Xianjiang region, where Washington accuses Beijing of committing serious abuses against Uyghurs. and other ethnic minorities. During the call, Xi told Biden that if Beijing and Washington confront each other, “both countries and the world will suffer,” according to a statement from the Asian country’s Foreign Ministry. Biden and Xi have not yet met in person, although the White House has not ruled out that they may do so during the G20 leaders’ summit, to be held at the end of October in Rome.
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