Joe Biden tells Xi Jinping to respect human rights, raises concerns about China’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, says U.S. opposes ‘unilateral action’ to change Taiwan. Xi tells him you’re ‘playing with fire, and those who play with fire get burned’

The White House added that as in previous discussions, "the two leaders covered areas where our interests align, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge."

U.S.President Joseph R. Biden Jr. met virtually with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Monday night and “raised concerns about the PRC’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly,” the White House said in a readout.

President Biden also told the Chinese leader that the United States “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Chinese media, however, reported that President Xi warned that the U.S. support for Taiwan’s independence is like “playing with fire,” adding that “those who play with fire will get burned.”

Under the One China policy, which is the cornerstone of Sino-U.S. policy, the United States recognizes China rather than the Island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland one day. However, the U.S. also adheres to the Taiwan Relations Act, which says the United States must help Taiwan defend itself in the event of an attack.

Last month, President Biden said the United States would defend Taiwan if the Island were attacked by China, a threat that signaled the departure a long-held U.S. foreign policy position of “strategic ambiguity.”

That policy has made the U.S. to be vague when it comes to Taiwan in an attempt not to anger China.

The White House added that President Biden also discussed “the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and communicated the continued determination of the United States to uphold our commitments in the region, reiterating the importance of freedom of navigation and safe overflight to the region’s prosperity.

More broadly, both leaders “discussed the complex nature of relations between our two countries and the importance of managing competition responsibly,” the White House said, adding that as in previous discussions, “the two leaders covered areas where our interests align, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge.”

It wrote, “President Biden welcomed the opportunity to speak candidly and straightforwardly to President Xi about our intentions and priorities across a range of issues.

“President Biden underscored that the United States will continue to stand up for its interests and values and, together with our allies and partners, ensure the rules of the road for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open, and fair. He emphasized the priority he places on far-reaching investments at home while we align with allies and partners abroad to take on the challenges of our time.

“President Biden raised concerns about the PRC’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly.

U.S.President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meets virtually with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Monday, November 15, 2021 
U.S.President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meets virtually with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Monday, November 15, 2021

“He was clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from the PRC’s unfair trade and economic practices. He also discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and communicated the continued determination of the United States to uphold our commitments in the region.

“President Biden reiterated the importance of freedom of navigation and safe overflight to the region’s prosperity. On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States remains committed to the “one China” policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

U.S.President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meets virtually with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Monday, November 15, 2021 
U.S.President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meets virtually with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Monday, November 15, 2021

“President Biden also underscored the importance of managing strategic risks. He noted the need for common-sense guardrails to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and to keep lines of communication open. He raised specific transnational challenges where our interests intersect, such as health security. In particular, the two leaders discussed the existential nature of the climate crisis to the world and the important role that the United States and the PRC play.

“They also discussed the importance of taking measures to address global energy supplies. The two leaders also exchanged views on key regional challenges, including DPRK, Afghanistan, and Iran. Finally, they discussed ways for the two sides to continue discussions on a number of areas, with President Biden underscoring the importance of substantive and concrete conversations.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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