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Joe Biden pressures Chinese president Xi Jinping over 'coercive and unfair' trade as well as country's human rights record in first call since taking office

 Joe Biden on Wednesday held his first call as president with Xi Jinping, pressing the Chinese leader about trade and Beijing's crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong as well as other human rights concerns.

The two leaders spoke just hours after Biden announced plans for a Pentagon task force to review U.S. national security strategy in China and after the new U.S. president announced he was levying sanctions against Myanmar's military regime following this month's coup in the southeast Asian country.

A White House statement said Biden raised concerns about Beijing´s 'coercive and unfair economic practices.' Biden also pressed Xi on Hong Kong, human rights abuses against Uighur and ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province, and its actions toward Taiwan.

President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held their first telephone call as leaders on Wednesday

President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held their first telephone call as leaders on Wednesday 

Chinese leader President Xi Jinping maintained a hardline tone regarding Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which Xi said were matters of 'sovereignty and territorial integrity'

Chinese leader President Xi Jinping maintained a hardline tone regarding Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which Xi said were matters of 'sovereignty and territorial integrity' 

'I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people,' Biden posted on Twitter after the call.

China´s state broadcaster CCTV struck a mostly positive tone about the conversation, saying Xi acknowledged the two sides had their differences, and those differences should be managed, but urged overall cooperation.

CCTV said Xi pushed back against Biden´s concerns on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, saying the issues are China´s internal affairs and concern Chinese sovereignty. 

He warned, 'The U.S. should respect China´s core interests and act with caution.'

Biden, who had dealt with the Chinese leader when he served as Barack Obama´s vice president, used his first three weeks in the White House to make several calls with other leaders in the Indo-Pacific region. 

It was the first call between Xi and a U.S. president since the Chinese leader spoke with former President Donald Trump in March last year. They are pictured here during a visit to China in 2013

It was the first call between Xi and a U.S. president since the Chinese leader spoke with former President Donald Trump in March last year. They are pictured here during a visit to China in 2013

He has tried to send the message that he would take a radically different approach to China than former President Donald Trump, who placed trade and economic issues above all else in the U.S.-China relationship.  

On Wednesday,  Biden announced that he was launching a new Defense Department task force on China that would take an overall look at the growing military and strategic rival of the U.S. – putting in place a scheme that could lead to a new national military posture.

He announced the move at the Pentagon – a signal to Beijing that the look will be overarching and will include military and not just economic components of the U.S. posture.

The reexamination comes after four years of clashes with Beijing over economic policy and a trade war that featured tariffs and counter-tariffs.

The task force will look at intelligence, technology as well as the U.S. the military footprint in the region.

It will include representatives of the joint staff and combatant commands as well as the intelligence community, a reflection of the areas upon which it will focus.

It will consist of 15 people, and will be tasked with presenting its findings in four months.  

Biden: 'US is reviewing strategy with China'
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Move on China: Joe Biden announced a Pentagon review of the military's approach to China at the Pentagon

Move on China: Joe Biden announced a Pentagon review of the military's approach to China at the Pentagon

Speaking at the Pentagon for the first time as president along with new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Biden called for the U.S. to lead a new era of competition 'from the deep sea to outer space' – two areas where China is on the move.   

'And we need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep the peace and defend our interest in the Indo-Pacific and globally,' Biden said.

The moves comes days after Biden issued his most extensive public comments on China of his presidency in an interview with CBS where he cast China as a competitor.

'There's going to be extreme competition. And I'm not going to do it the way that he knows,' Biden said of Chinese President Xi Jinping. 'And that's because he's – sending signals as well. I'm not going to do it the way Trump did. We're going to focus on international rules of the road,' he said. 

He also spoke of his experience meeting with the Chinese leader numerous times. 

'He's very bright,' Biden said of Xi. 'He's very tough. He doesn't have – and I don't mean it as a criticism, just the reality, he doesn't have a democratic, small-D, bone in his body. But ... the question is, I've said to him all along, that we need not have a conflict.'

Biden underscored 'fundamental concerns about Beijing's coercive and unfair practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, and reported human rights abuses'

Biden underscored 'fundamental concerns about Beijing's coercive and unfair practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, and reported human rights abuses'

Officials have described the task force as coordinating various U.S. government levers. They include economic, diplomatic, political and military areas, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Biden has also spoken to many other Asian leaders. 

With Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga late last month, Biden underscored the U.S. commitment to protecting the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. 

In his call with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Biden emphasized the need for 'close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.' 

And in his call with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, the president highlighted that the two nations' alliance was essential to stability in the region, the White House said.

Top aides to Biden have repeatedly heard from Asia-Pacific counterparts who had become discouraged by Trump´s frequently sharp rhetoric aimed at allies, talk of reducing troop levels in South Korea and odd interactions with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private calls.

Chinese leader President Xi Jinping also maintained a hardline tone regarding Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which Xi said were matters of 'sovereignty and territorial integrity'

Chinese leader President Xi Jinping also maintained a hardline tone regarding Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which Xi said were matters of 'sovereignty and territorial integrity'

Allies in the region have made clear they want a more purposeful and steady approach to engagements going forward, according to the official.

To that end, Biden and other top administration officials have taken care in their initial interactions with their counterparts to look to the long game in resetting the relationships.

Biden used Wednesday's call to raise concerns about Beijing´s crackdown on activists in Hong Kong and about its policies affecting Muslims and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. 

In the final hours of the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the Chinese Communist Party had committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other minority groups.

China has denied any abuses and says the steps it has taken are necessary to combat terrorism and a separatist movement.

The White House also said Biden made clear his concern about Beijing´s increasingly 'assertive' action with Taiwan. Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, even as the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Days into Biden´s presidency, China dispatched warplanes close to the island. The U.S. Navy, in turn, last week sent a guided-missile destroyer through the waterway that separates China and Taiwan.

One area that Biden doesn´t appear ready to move quickly on is discontinuing Trump´s trade war with China, which led to tariffs on their steel, aluminum and other goods.

Biden plans to leave the tariffs in place as his administration conducts a top-to-bottom review of trade policy. Administration officials note that the president is still awaiting confirmation of his U.S. trade representative nominee, Katherine Tai, and his pick for commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo. Both are expected to play key roles in helping shape China trade policy.

Administration officials say Biden also wants to consult with allies in Asia and Europe before making decisions on tariffs.

Biden and Xi know each other well and have had frank exchanges.

Biden played host to then-Chinese vice president Xi during his 2012 visit to the United States. Biden used that visit to get a read of Xi and was blunt at moments, even raising concerns about Chinese theft of intellectual property and human rights abuses during a luncheon toast.

The following year, when Biden visited China, he publicly criticized Beijing for refusing to affirm that it would renew the visas of American journalists and for blocking the websites of American-based news media sites.

Biden has said he believes there are areas where the U.S. and China can work closely, such as addressing climate change and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But ultimately, Biden said recently, he expects the U.S.-China relationship to be one of 'extreme competition' in coming years.

On Thursday, China´s state broadcaster said Xi told Biden: 'You´ve said America´s greatest feature is possibility. I hope that this type of possibility will develop in a way that is conducive to improving relations between the two countries.

2 comments:

  1. Such a tear jerking mention of the xingiang muslims!
    And this is the same poor, little, victims" that every Western MSM has.

    What they don't say is that the muslims are trouble-makers, and pushing for gov. overthrow and their own agenda, which is: Conversion to islam!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This trouble with the islamics is not a one time thing. Countries all over the world are having trouble with their islamic population. They do NOT have separation of religion and State, but insist on adhering ONLY to the Koran, and not the laws of the country. To this they will harrass, riot, rape women, abduct them, force them to convert, and behead any one that objects to islamic laws.

    These problems are happening in diverse countries worldwide, in the Rohingya of Myanmar, the UK, Sweden, the Moros of the Philippines, the Algerians into France (among others) , and China.

    And in the news, the Rohingya, in Myanmar, make themselves out as the innocent victims. But for a long time now, it was THEM that attacked the Buddhists, et al. And when the non-islamics finally had enough of them, and turned the table on the islamics, "oh, the world is going to end, and THEN is when the MSM reports the news."

    The same thing has been happening in India, where the islamics are 50% of the population, but have the great percentage of criminality. The fact is that, the islamics forced the separation of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and now working on Kashmir, etc.

    ReplyDelete