On Feb. 10, President Joe Biden spoke to Chinese leader Xi Jinping about the unequal economic practices of China, the Hong Kong crackdown, human rights violations in Xinjiang, and assertive actions, including against Taiwan, in the Indo-Pacific region.
There was a long history between Biden and Xi that dates back years. But the first time Biden met with Xi as president of the United States was on Wednesday. “Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the security, prosperity, health, and way of life of the American people, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to a readout of the White House call.
The two leaders also exchanged views on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the shared challenges raised by global health stability, climate change, and the prevention of proliferation of weapons,” the report said.” The call coincided with the Lunar New Year and his greetings were exchanged by Biden.
The call between the two leaders was highly expected and the subjects covered serve as a brief overview for his China strategy of Biden’s priorities. Several members of the Biden administration did not call the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) an enemy in confirmation hearings and pivoted instead to Biden’s definition of China as a main global competitor.
President Donald Trump’s administration has implemented some of the toughest measures in decades to fight the CCP, including the funding and recognition of Taiwan and Hong Kong, and the establishment of alliances in the Indo-Pacific to discourage the region’s CCP ambitions. The State Department called the CCP’s treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang a genocide in the last days of the Trump administration.
The readout of Biden’s call does not make clear whether the president has indicated any change in direction from the China policy of the previous administration.
On Wednesday, Biden said that the U.S. A analysis of how the military will address the threat posed by China will be carried out by the Department of Defense.
“A whole-of-government effort, bipartisan collaboration in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships will be required,” Biden told the Pentagon. “That’s how we’re going to meet the challenge in China and ensure that the American people win the future competition.”
On Sunday, Biden told CBS News that “extreme competition” from the United States should be anticipated by the Chinese regime, although he said the relationship need not necessarily be focused on confrontation. “We will confront the economic abuses of China,” Biden said, adding that America’s “most serious competitor” is the dictatorship.
Biden, however, said he would take a different approach to the CCP than Trump, whose administration also criticized the regime for its systematic abuses of human rights, the dissemination of misinformation, and acts of non-compliance with liberal democratic principles centered on the rules-based international order.