Biden and Xi chat for more than 2 hours amid US-China tensions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping held the fifth conversation of their presidencies on Thursday, speaking for more than two hours as they chart the future of their complicated relationship at a time of economic stress. and quivering geopolitics.

The call began at 8:33 a.m. EDT and ended at 10:50 a.m. EDT, according to the White House. It came as Biden aims to find new ways to work with the rising global power as well as strategies to contain China’s influence around the world. Differing perspectives on global health, economic policy and human rights have long tested the relationship – with China refusing to condemn The Russian invasion of Ukraine adding an additional constraint.

“The two heads of state had in-depth communication and exchanges on China-US relations and issues of mutual concern,” China Central Television reported on its website.

The final pressure point was that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi potential visit to Taiwan, the island which governs itself democratically and receives informal defensive support from the United States, but which China considers part of its territory. Beijing has said it would view such a trip as a provocation, a threat that US officials are taking with increased seriousness in light of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

“If the United States insists on going its own way and challenging China’s financial performance, it will surely receive strong responses,” Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters earlier this week. . “All consequences arising therefrom shall be borne by the United States”

Pelosi would be the highest-ranking American lawmaker to visit Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997 when he was Speaker of the House. Biden told reporters last week that US military officials believe it was “not a good idea” for the speaker to travel to the island at this time.

John Kirby, a US national security spokesman, said Wednesday that it was important for Biden and Xi to touch each other regularly.

“The president wants to make sure the lines of communication with President Xi stay open because they need to,” Kirby told reporters during a White House briefing. “There are issues on which we can cooperate with China, and there are issues where there is obviously friction and tension.”

Biden and Xi last spoke to each other in March, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world today, with ramifications far beyond the two countries,” Kirby said.

The conversation comes as Biden moved to shift US reliance on Chinese manufacturing, including The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday to encourage semiconductor companies to build more high-tech factories in the United States Biden wants to mobilize global democracies to support infrastructure investment in low- and middle-income countries as an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, which aims to boost China’s trade with other global markets.

Kirby listed a number of areas of friction between the United States and China that he said would be part of the conversation, including “tensions over Taiwan, tensions over … China’s aggressive behavior in the ‘Indo-Pacific outside Taiwan, tensions in the economic relationship’ and on China’s reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Biden, who has kept Trump-era tariffs in place on many Chinese manufactured goods to maintain influence over Beijing, ponders whether to ease at least some of them in a bid to ease the impact of soaring inflation on US households.

US officials have also criticized China’s ‘zero-COVID’ policy of mass testing and lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 in its territory, calling it misguided and fearing that it further slow global economic growth.

Other points of tension include China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, which the United States has declared genocide, its militarization in the South China Sea and the global campaign of economic and political espionage.

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