Biden Has First Call as President With Chinese Leader Xi Jinping - What Did They Discuss?
How do you feel about Biden’s call with Xi?
by Causes | 2.11.21
What’s the story?
- President Joe Biden on Wednesday had a two hour call with Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), their first conversation since Biden took office.
- The call comes shortly after the PRC’s persecution of Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in Xinjiang was designated as “genocide” last month by the outgoing Trump administration with concurrence from the incoming Biden foreign policy team, and amid tensions between the PRC and Taiwan. During the Obama administration, then-Vice President Biden had several meetings with Xi and traveled with him around the PRC.
- The White House released a readout of the two hour call that described the conversation at a high level, which stated “a free and open Indo-Pacific” is a priority of Biden’s administration and added:
“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.”
- Additionally, the readout said that Biden and Xi “exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation.”
- At a Thursday meeting about infrastructure with a bipartisan group of senators, Biden said he had a “good conversation” with Xi, who he knows well, and added:
“We spent a lot of time together over the years I was Vice President. And ― but, you know, they’re going to ― if we don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch. They have major, major new initiatives on rail. And they already have rail that goes 225 miles an hour with ease. They’re working ― they’re working very hard to do what I think we’re going to have to do.”
- Biden’s assessment of the PRC’s ability to “eat our lunch” is a contrast from remarks he made in 2019 after launching his presidential campaign which downplayed the challenge posed by the rise of the PRC:
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on man. They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east, I mean the west. They can’t figure out how they’re gonna deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, I, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not competition for us.”
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: State Department via Flickr / Public Domain)
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