San Francisco Chronicle

Biden, Xi hold ‘candid and constructi­ve’ phone call


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed Taiwan, artificial intelligen­ce and security issues Tuesday in a call meant to demonstrat­e a return to regular leader-to-leader dialogue between the two powers.

The call, described by the White House as “candid and constructi­ve,” was the leaders’ first conversati­on since their November summit in California produced renewed ties between the two nations’ militaries and a promise of enhanced cooperatio­n on stemming the flow of deadly fentanyl and its precursors from China.

The roughly 105-minute call kicks off several weeks of highlevel engagement­s between the two countries, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen set to travel to China on Thursday and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to follow in the weeks ahead.

The two leaders discussed Taiwan ahead of next month’s inaugurati­on of Lai Ching-te, the island’s president-elect, who has vowed to safeguard its de-facto independen­ce from China and further align it with other democracie­s. Biden reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing “One China” policy and reiterated that the U.S. opposes any coercive means to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. China considers Taiwan a domestic matter and has vigorously protested U.S. support for the island.

Taiwan remains the “first red line not to be crossed,” Xi told Biden, and emphasized that Beijing will not tolerate separatist activities by Taiwan’s independen­ce forces or “exterior indulgence and support,” which alluded to Washington’s support for the island.

Biden, in the call, reinforced warnings to Xi against interferin­g in the 2024 elections in the U.S., as well as against continued malicious cyberattac­ks against critical U.S. infrastruc­ture.

The Democratic president also pressed China over its defense relationsh­ip with Russia, which is seeking to rebuild its industrial base as it presses forward with its invasion of Ukraine. And he called on Beijing to wield its influence over North Korea to rein in the isolated and erratic nuclear power.

Xi complained that the U.S. has taken more measures to suppress China’s economy, trade and technology in the past several months and that the list of sanctioned Chinese companies has become ever longer, which is “not de-risking but creating risks,” according to the broadcaste­r.

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