China vs USA: The four things we learnt from Biden’s call with Xi Jinping

Biden says US would come to Taiwan’s defence if China invaded

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Talks between the US and the Chinese leaders took in a whole host of key issues relating to both. On the agenda were a number of sensitive topics including Taiwan, human rights abuses and trade but what specifically did the two leaders say during the summit?

Late last night US and Chinese leaders, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping spoke for just the third time since Mr Biden’s inauguration, in a virtual summit that lasted three and a half hours.

It was hoped the meeting would help to ease tensions between the two world powers.

Initially, warm greetings were exchanged by both men, with Mr Xi admitting he was “very happy to see my old friend” Mr Biden.

Mr Biden said that “we’ve spent an awful lot of time talking to one another, and I hope we can have a candid conversation tonight”.

President Xi added the US and China needed to improve “communication” and face challenges “together”.

The issue of Taiwan

However, attention was quickly drawn to the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be reunified with the mainland.

Although the US recognises and has formal ties with China it has also pledged to help Taiwan defend itself in the event of an attack.

Global Times, China’s state-run newspaper, said Mr Xi blamed recent US-China tensions on “repeated attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their independence agenda”.

It said: “Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire. Whoever plays with fire will get burnt.”

In response, the White House said Mr Biden “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.

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What else was discussed?

During the virtual summit, the two leaders discussed a number of topics which neither can currently agree on.

Human rights abuses

Mr Biden raised concerns about human rights abuses in Hong Kong and against the Uyghur ethnic group, in the northwest region of Xinjiang.

China though views this as the US meddling in its domestic affairs.

US-Chinese trade

Trade was mentioned by Mr Biden, who highlighted the “need to protect American workers and industries from the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China’s) unfair trade and economic practices”.

Reuters reported that Mr Xi also had strong comments to make on the issue stating that the US needed to cease “abusing the concept of national security to oppress Chinese companies”.

Climate Change

Last week the US and China surprised many when they issued a joint declaration to address climate change during COP26 talks.

A week on and the conversation was brought up again as to how the two countries can further cooperate to help tackle the issue.

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