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Biden, Xi hold first phone call in 7 months, Taiwan discussions unconfirmed

Call comes after cabinet-level meetings between two sides failed to make progress

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US, China flags. (Getty Images)

US, China flags. (Getty Images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (習近平) for the first time in seven months on Thursday (Sept. 9).

“The two leaders had a broad, strategic discussion in which they discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge,” according to a White House statement on the conversation. It added that they “discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”

Thursday's call was the second time the leaders had spoken over the phone. In recent months, U.S.-China relations have become increasingly hostile.

The conversation was initiated by Biden after recent meetings between U.S. Cabinet officials and their Chinese counterparts failed to make progress on key issues, a senior Biden administration official said prior to the call, according to a Bloomberg report. The call centered on "broad and strategic" topics with no concrete decisions on outstanding issues or discussion of an in-person meeting between the leaders, the official said.

The list of disagreements between Washington and Beijing is long and growing. In recent months the two countries have repeatedly clashed over the status of Taiwan, human rights abuses, and cybersecurity as well as investigations into the origins of COVID-19, which China refuses to cooperate with, per Bloomberg.

The upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Rome in late October may provide the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting, yet the official said there were no plans for one at this stage. The Chinese leader has not confirmed he will attend the G20 summit, according to a government official and senior European diplomat.

Xi has not left China for over 600 days, the longest such stint of any G20 leader. There are questions over whether his absence from international events will hinder progress and engagement with other countries on matters of global significance, such as climate change.

The White House statement made no specific mention of discussions about Taiwan.


Updated : 2021-09-24 00:00 GMT+08:00