President Joe Biden spoke to the leader of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, yesterday amid tense relations between Beijing and Washington. The call, which was initiated by the American President, was the first call between the two nations’ leaders in seven months.
Tensions between the US and China had increased during Donald Trump’s stint at the White House.
Sino-American relations continued to deteriorate under Biden’s leadership amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.
After Biden and Jinping’s phone call, the White House released a readout that summarised what the pair had discussed during their 90-minute conversation.
It read: “The two leaders had a broad, strategic discussion in which they discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge.
“They agreed to engage on both sets of issues openly and straightforwardly.
“This discussion, as President Biden made clear, was part of the United States’ ongoing effort to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the PRC.
“President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world and the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”
More recently, the US has even accused China of conducting cyberspace attacks, including a hack on Microsoft’s email system.
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Last week, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned ex-presidential nominee John Kerry that fraught relations could undermine the fight to tackle climate change.
Mr Kerry, who now serves as Biden’s environment envoy, was issued with the warning during a visit to Tianjin.
Beijing and Washington have also locked horns over the conduct of the People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, previously called on China to “cease its provocative behaviour”.
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He said: “The People’s Republic of China continues to coerce and intimidate southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway”.
“We call on the PRC”, he continued, “to abide by its obligations under international law, cease its provocative behaviour and take steps to reassure the international community that it is committed to the rules-based maritime order that respects the rights of all countries, big and small.”
In Beijing, a state-run media outlet has claimed the US President was told by the Chinese premier America’s policy in the region has caused “serious difficulties” for Sino-American relations.
Xinhua report claimed Xi said: “Chinese-U.S. confrontation will bring disaster to both countries and the world.”
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The Chinese report went on to add that Beijing and Washington had agreed to maintain regular contact.