Biden Talks to Xi About Conflicts, From Ukraine to the Pacific

Biden Talks to Xi About Conflicts, From Ukraine to the Pacific

According to a White House statement, President Biden spoke with Xi Jinping, China’s leader, on Tuesday morning in a phone call aimed at addressing a broad range of combative and cooperative issues as the United States grapples with wars and other global crises.

Topics on Mr. Biden’s agenda included the fight against drug production, the Middle East conflict and China’s support of Russia during the Ukraine war, a senior administration official said.

Mr. Biden intends to view the conversation as a “check-in” rather than a summit with concrete results, said the official, who spoke to a small group of reporters on Monday evening on condition of anonymity, as is typical for such briefings in Washington is . But it was a crucial milestone in a pivotal political year and as the countries seek to stabilize their ties, which hit multi-decade lows last year.

The call came days before a trip to China by Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, soon to be followed by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, the official said. These would be the first visits by cabinet members to China this year; Both officials traveled to Beijing last year to stabilize relations after tempers flared during the Chinese spy balloon episode.

Since last summer, Mr Biden and Mr Xi have been trying to prevent any unrest between their nations. Mr. Biden wants to focus on his tight re-election race this year. Mr. Xi is grappling with a range of domestic problems, including a struggling economy and corruption in the highest ranks of his military.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi held an in-person summit in November at a lavish estate in Woodside, outside San Francisco. The two also met in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022 – their first in-person summit as national leaders – and had their last conversation in July 2022.

The senior U.S. official told reporters that Tuesday’s call was part of the administration’s efforts to meet modest goals of outreach and “responsible management” of competition.

Mr. Biden plans to address two issues related to China’s aggression in the Pacific: Taiwan and the South China Sea, the official said.

The Biden administration has warned China to rein in its coast guard ships that fired water cannons at Philippine supply ships in a disputed area of ​​the South China Sea. And the United States has said the Chinese military is provocatively using jets and ships near Taiwan, the de facto independent island whose status is the biggest point of conflict between Washington and Beijing.

But Mr. Biden also planned to reaffirm to Mr. Xi that the United States remains committed to its “One China Policy,” which recognizes the mainland People’s Republic of China as China’s sole legitimate government – but without saying anything about Taiwan’s status say.

Like previous Chinese leaders, Mr. Xi said Taiwan must be brought under Communist Party rule, by force if necessary. Mr Biden has said four times that US troops will defend Taiwan if China attempts an invasion. The comments marked a departure from the U.S. government’s decades-long effort to leave unclear whether the American military would defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, said in an interview with The New York Times in Taipei on Thursday that China has steadily expanded its military activities around Taiwan, as well as its cyber espionage efforts and promotion of online disinformation, all of which is a “gray” zone “-Aggressions without a full war. “We need closer U.S. cooperation with Taiwan,” he said.

The US official said Mr Biden wanted to emphasize to Mr Xi that China must not continue to help Russia rebuild its military-industrial base. Russian arms production is robust despite economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries after President Vladimir V. Putin ordered the all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The steady production of ammunition and missiles – as well as weapons aid from North Korea and Iran – are helping Russia in Ukraine.

China has caught up in some areas of trade that European nations had halted, and that has allowed Russia to rebuild its weapons production capacity, the official said.

Mr Biden also wanted Mr Xi to help curb attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthi forces, an Iran-backed military group that says it will continue attacks as long as Israel wages its war with Israel Hamas in Gaza, the US official said. The Biden administration has urged China to ask Iran to contain the Houthis, especially as Chinese ships also sail through the Red Sea.

The official said Mr. Biden would like to continue working with China on several issues: limiting exports of chemicals used to make fentanyl, talks among senior military officials, discussions on artificial intelligence and climate change policy.

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2024-04-02 17:15:59