Biden talks to Jinping for first time after assuming office

Shalini Ojha
·3-min read

Biden talks to Jinping for first time after assuming office
Biden talks to Jinping for first time after assuming office

11 Feb 2021: Biden talks to Jinping for first time after assuming office

United States President Joe Biden spoke to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday evening (local time) for the first time since his January 20 inauguration.

A White House readout inferred that Biden took a tough tone against China's unfair trade practices, the crackdown launched in Hong Kong, and the human rights abuse in the Xinjiang region.

Here's what went down.

Conversation: Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting American people

The White House revealed Biden extended his warm wishes to Jinping and the Chinese people on the occasion of the Lunar New Year. He then affirmed his priorities of protecting the security, health, and prosperity of the American people, as well as, preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Biden then spoke about China's assertive actions, including its behavior toward Taiwan, the readout added.

Fact: They also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change

"The two leaders also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of the global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation," the note went on.

Human rights: Taiwanese politician pleased after Biden's call

Tellingly, Beijing has invited criticism from the Western countries over an array of human rights issues, including the detention camps run for Uighur Muslims, the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters of Hong Kong, and its attempt to strong-arm Taiwan.

Appreciating Biden for mentioning Taiwan in the call, Vice-Presiden Lai Ching-te said Taiwan welcomes an open dialogue with China if it is based on mutual respect.

Fact: 'Appreciate President Biden's renewed support'

Phone call: The message would be 'hard-headed' and 'practical,' official claimed earlier

Before speaking with Jinping, Biden had conversations with Indo-Pacific allies like Australia, Japan, India, and South Korea.

In a press briefing before the call, a senior official of the Biden administration said the message to China would be "practical, hard-headed, clear-eyed."

While Biden's approach toward China would be different from his predecessor Donald Trump's, the current US administration is, reportedly, not looking at revoking tariffs.

Rapport: Biden and Jinping developed a rapport during Obama era

Although this was the first time Biden and Jinping spoke as leaders of their respective nations, the two had developed a rapport during the era of ex-President Barack Obama.

Biden was the Vice-President and Jinping was the heir apparent to China's presidency in 2011 and 2012.

In a recent interview with CBS, Biden said he had spent the most time with Jinping.

Interview: Know him very well: Biden

Biden claimed that he knows Jinping "very well" and that the Chinese President is "very bright."

"He's very tough. He doesn't have — and I don't mean it as a criticism, just the reality — he doesn't have a democratic, small-D, bone in his body," he added.

The US President also underlined that while they needn't necessarily have conflicts, there will be "extreme competition."

Fact: US President will focus on international rules

"I'm not going to do it the way that he knows. And that's because he's sending signals as well. I'm not going to do it the way Trump did. We're going to focus on international rules of the road," Biden had said.