Biden holds call with China’s Xi to discuss Taiwan, TikTok and fentanyl

Biden holds call with China’s Xi to discuss Taiwan, TikTok and fentanyl
Biden holds call with China’s Xi to discuss Taiwan, TikTok and fentanyl

President Joe Biden held a call with China’s President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, the first since their meeting in November, discussing issues including maintaining peace across the Taiwan Strait.

The White House said the “candid and constructive” discussion, which lasted nearly two hours, also addressed military communications and co-operation to curb the production of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is the leading cause of drug overdoses in the US.

“We believe there is no substitute for regular communication at the leader level to effectively manage this complex bilateral relationship and both Presidents agree to pick up the phone and speak when needed,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

The call comes as the Biden administration seeks to de-escalate tensions with China, ahead of the presidential inauguration of Taiwan’s president-elect Lai Ching-te in May, who has said he wants to preserve the island’s de facto independence from China.

“President Biden emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

The last time the leaders of the world’s two largest economies met face to face was in November during a summit in California.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is set to arrive in China on Thursday, in a further push to warmer relations, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to China in the coming weeks.

During her April 3-9 trip, Ms Yellen is expected to press Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other officials on “unfair trade practices” and the global consequences of Chinese industrial overcapacity, the Treasury Department said.

She will also hold talks to address expanding co-operation on illicit finance, climate change and debt distress.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the leaders also discussed TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app that harvests enormous amounts of user data.

“TikTok came up today, yes,” Mr Kirby told reporters.

“He made it clear to President Xi that this was not about a ban of the application, but rather our interest in divestiture so that the national security interests and the data security of the American people can be protected,” he said.

During the call, Mr Biden raised concerns about China’s “support for Russia’s defense industrial base”, according to the readout, as Moscow presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

Updated: April 02, 2024, 9:47 PM

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Biden holds call Chinas discuss Taiwan TikTok fentanyl


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