United States President Joe Biden on Thursday talked to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping amid fraught ties between the two nations. Biden urged that the countries’ dynamic remain “competitive” without veering towards “unintended conflict”, AFP reported.
This was the leaders’ first conversation in seven months, with the last one being soon after Biden took office.
The US and China have not seen eye to eye on many matters since Biden assumed office in February. The Biden administration has maintained the trade tariffs on China imposed by Former US President Donald Trump in 2018. The tariffs – a tax imposed on imported goods – allow the president to restrict foreign commerce that “unfairly burden” the US.
By 2020, Trump had imposed tariffs worth more than $360 billion (Rs 26 lakh crore) on steel, aluminium, and various other goods incoming from China.
Besides trade matters, the US and China had criticised each other’s policies at high-level talks in Alaska in March. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi had tussled over China’s human rights violation in Tibet, Hong Kong and China’s Xinjiang region.
Yang had also accused the US of using its military might and financial supremacy to suppress other countries.
Other matters that China and the US have had disagreements about include Taiwan, Beijing’s claims over territories in the South China Sea, and the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, the White House, in a statement, said that Biden and Xi had a “broad, strategic discussion” in which they discussed areas where their “interests converged” and areas where their “interests, values, and perspectives diverge”.
The White House also said it hoped the US and China would work on mutual concerns such as climate change and preventing a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. A White House official said that the purpose of the call was also to set out “guardrails” to ensure that the US’ actions are not “misinterpreted by China”, according to AFP.
Beijing-based broadcaster CCTV called the phone call “candid and in-depth”, according to AFP. It said that the leaders spoke on strategic communication issues and deliberated on mutual concerns such as cooperation on climate change, epidemic prevention, economic recovery and other issues.
However, Xi told Biden that US policy towards China had caused “serious difficulties” in relations, Xinhua News Agency reported.
“This is not in the basic interests of the two peoples,” Xi said. “Chinese-US confrontation will bring disaster to both countries and the world.”
In July, Beijing had sent a list of its complaints to US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, alleging that the US was trying to suppress China’s development, AP reported. Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had told US climate envoy John Kerry that faltering US-China relations could also hurt climate change discussions.