Biden speaks with China's Xi Jinping for the first time since taking office and presses 'human rights and security'

PRESIDENT Joe Biden spoke with China's Xi Jinping for the first time since taking office and pressed concerns about human rights and security.

The two also spoke about maintaining a functioning relationship between the US and China moving forward during the Wednesday conversation.


The White House released a statement Wednesday evening on the topics the two leaders touched on during their call.

"President Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people's security, prosperity, health and way of life and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific," the statement says.

"President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing's coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan."

The statement continues to say Biden and Xi discussed the Covid-19 pandemic, global health security and climate change, among other issues.

Biden and Xi are familiar with each other, as the president hosted the Chinese leader while he was VP in Barack Obama's administration — and they reportedly have an open and frank relationship.

Xi was reportedly adamant during Wednesday's call that the two nations maintain a solid relationship, pointing to the turmoil that would come from any conflict.

The Chinese leader said that cooperation was the only choice for both nations and that they need to find ways to properly manage any disputes in a constructive way, according to an account reported by Chinese state television.

Xi also suggested re-establishing mechanisms for dialogue in order to avoid any misunderstandings in the future, the report said.

Biden took to Twitter after the call and shared that the two had a productive conversation about working together.

"I spoke today with President Xi to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for Lunar New Year. I also shared concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan," Biden wrote.

"I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people."

Since taking office, Biden has signified that he will be taking a radically different approach to relations with China than Donald Trump's administration did.

During the Trump presidency, trade and economic issues were placed above all else when it came to the relationship between the nations.

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The leaders spoke just hours after Biden announced plans for a Pentagon task force to review the country's national security strategy in China.

Biden will, however, leave tariffs the Trump administration placed on China's steal, aluminum and other goods in place.

Reports say that Biden wants to consult with allies in both Asia and Europe before deciding whether to alter the tariff policy.

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