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Biden Calls Chinese President Xi to Share ‘His Greetings and Well Wishes’

President Joe Biden spoke over the phone to President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday and “shared his greetings and well wishes with the Chinese people on the occasion of Lunar New Year,” according to a summary of the call released by the White House.

“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,” read the summary of the two leaders’ first official phone call since the election.

The White House tried to indicate that the call was not all happy talk.

“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 summary said.

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

“President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies.”

Speaking to reporters before the phone call, unnamed senior Biden administration provided more context, Fox News reported.

One official said Biden would approach the call in a manner that was “hard-headed, practical, clear-eyed, and rooted in a deep familiarity with his counterpart on the other end of the line.”

Although Biden plans to reject the overall trade strategy adopted by former President Donald Trump, Biden is maintaining Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods “not because we believe the trade war was successful, but because we believe we have to very carefully, in consultation with allies and partners, in consultation with Congress, work through the leverage we have on the economic front and move out with a sharper, and more effective trade strategy toward China,” officials said.

“We are keeping them in place until we are ready to roll out an affirmative trade strategy built on the proposition that we are better off executing jointly with allies rather than by ourselves,” an official said. “That is going to take some time.”

“We need a substantially different strategy toward China, but one that does point in the direction of intense strategic competition,” the official added. “That is the strategy that the Biden administration will pursue.”

Biden’s “prescription” for relations with China is to strengthen the U.S. economy and make investments, officials said.

An official said China “has sought to undermine elements” of the American strategy.

“Rising powers do that,” the official said.

“They want to redesign the system in ways that are beneficial to it.”

Some critics have said Biden’s administration is too chummy with China.

One official said Biden’s team is “very careful in our initial interactions with China,” as the administration tries “to be clear where our priorities are.”

Another official seemed to project optimism that the two nations could have a solid partnership.

“If we can get through the next six to eight months, we will be able to surge forward and continue to play a strong role in the Asia Pacific and also find areas that are consequential and important that we can work with China,” the official said.

Story cited here.