Biden, Xi discuss N. Korea, Taiwan, South China Sea in phone call: senior US official

Biden, Xi discuss N. Korea, Taiwan, South China Sea in phone call: senior US official
Biden, Xi discuss N. Korea, Taiwan, South China Sea in phone call: senior US official

By Song Sang-ho

WASHINGTON, April 2 (Yonhap) — President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held phone talks Tuesday to discuss efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, stability in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, and other issues, a senior US official said.

The call followed their in-person summit in California in November, where the two sides agreed to resume bilateral military communications and curb illicit fentanyl production in a display of their desire to stably manage the great-power relationship amid a hardening rivalry over security, technology and trade.

Their talks came amid concerns about North Korea’s continued saber-rattling, including its missile launch this week, and a potential erosion of the sanctions regime against the North due to Russia’s veto last week of a resolution to extend the mandate of a UN panel monitoring sanctions enforcement.

US President Joe Biden (L) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Filoli estate in Woodside, California, on Nov. 15, 2023, in this file photo released by Reuters. (Yonhap)

“We also expect the two leaders to cover a range of other regional and global issues, including efforts to advance the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the senior administration official said in a press briefing Monday.

The official noted that Washington has continued to raise North Korea-related issues during its talks with Beijing.

“(There is) certainly growing concern about the DPRK’s provocations and the risks of its growing economic, military, technological partnership with Russia,” the official said. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We certainly continue to underscore those concerns to China while also reiterating our readiness to conduct diplomacy with North Korea and our determination to take steps to deter further provocations by the DPRK.”

Concerns have persisted that the intensifying competition between the two superpowers could shrink room for tighter cooperation on North Korea-related issues, particularly at a time of North Korea’s burgeoning military cooperation with Russia, which boasts its “no-limits” partnership with Beijing.

Those concerns deepened last week when Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to extend the mandate of the expert panel set to expire on April 30 absent its passage. China abstained — a move that casts a pall over the future of international cooperation on sanctions enforcement.

During the call, Biden and Xi were also expected to discuss counter-narcotics efforts, risks and safety issues related to artificial intelligence, and bilateral military-to-military communications, according to the official.

In addition, Biden was likely to reiterate the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait particularly ahead of the May 20 inauguration of Taiwanese President-elect Lai Ching-te, and express concerns about what the United States called “destabilizing” Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

Biden was also expected to raise concern about China’s support for Russia’s war against Ukraine and its efforts to reconstitute its defense industrial base, according to the official.

The official said Washington and Beijing will have high-level exchanges in the near future, including visits to China by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in the coming days and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the coming weeks.

She added that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is also expected to have a call with his Chinese counterpart “soon,” while Chinese officials also plan to visit the US

“Intense competition requires intense diplomacy to manage tensions, address misperception and prevent unintended conflict,” the official said. “This call is one way to do that.”

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Biden discuss Korea Taiwan South China Sea phone call senior official


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