Biden shows his "concern" about Chinese support for Russia in a call with Xi Jinping

The presidents of the two leading world powers, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, held a phone call this Tuesday that continues the stabilization of relations between both countries staged at their meeting in November in California.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 22:24
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Biden shows his "concern" about Chinese support for Russia in a call with Xi Jinping

The presidents of the two leading world powers, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, held a phone call this Tuesday that continues the stabilization of relations between both countries staged at their meeting in November in California. Both leaders have discussed the recent elections in Taiwan, China's actions in the Indo-Pacific, the dangers of the development of artificial intelligence and the war in Ukraine, among other issues of primary international order, according to a statement from the White House without references to the conflict in Gaza.

The US president has conveyed to Xi his "concern about the People's Republic of China's support for the Russian defense industrial base and its impact on European and transatlantic security." Since the West imposed sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago, the Asian giant has become an even more essential ally for Vladimir Putin's regime.

On the economic level, its dependence on the Chinese yuan for international trade has grown, and on the military level, Beijing provides technology and material to be used on the battlefield in exchange for cheaper oil from Russia. During the war, China has presented itself to the world as neutral and has not formally condemned the invasion, and Xi has reiterated his "unlimited" alliance and "mutual trust" with Putin after his meetings with the re-elected Russian president.

From Washington it is clear that this supposed neutrality is not such and that China is helping Russia to rebuild its defense industrial base to withstand a war of attrition in Ukraine. In a conversation with reporters before the call, a senior White House official said that China "is a sovereign country that will make its own decisions about its relationships, but we are quite concerned about the direction it is going."

This Tuesday's call, which according to the Chinese government was given at Biden's request, comes two days before the visit of the Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, this Thursday to Beijing, and that of the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, "In the next weeks". Both cabinet members already traveled to China last year in their effort to reduce tensions. The conversation between Biden and Xi marked the first contact since the in-person meeting in Woodside (California) last November.

There, they agreed to reestablish communication on a military level "to avoid miscalculations" and "unnecessary conflicts," after months of tension due to the downing of a Chinese stratospheric balloon in US territory, which Washington described as "spy." Since then, “the relationship is beginning to stabilize,” says Beijing in its official statement, “and this is well received by both our societies and the international community.” However, “the negative factors of the relationship” also stand out. that "have also been growing, which requires attention on both sides."

Among the conflictive issues on the bilateral agenda is Taiwan, the self-governed island that China considers part of its sovereignty, where the pro-independence president Lai Ching-te revalidated his mandate in the January elections with 40% of the votes. Biden conveyed this Tuesday "the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as well as the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," says the White House.

Although Washington maintains its official position of recognizing "one China", it is committed to defending Taiwan in case Beijing tries to invade it. In recent speeches, Biden has reiterated on four occasions that he will send American troops in the event of an attack, abandoning the ambiguous position of previous administrations. According to the Chinese statement, Xi has warned him that "Taiwan is the first red line that should not be crossed" in relations between both countries and has asked him for "concrete actions" to demonstrate his commitment that he does not support the island's independence. .

Next week, Biden will receive the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and that of Japan, Fumio Kishida, at the White House for a summit in which China's influence in the East Asia region is the main focus of the day. . In recent weeks, attacks by the Chinese Coast Guard against Philippine vessels in the South China Sea, claimed by Beijing and in dispute with other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, have intensified. In addition, China has recently carried out new maneuvers in waters near the Japanese Senkaku Islands, also considered by the Chinese Communist Party to be part of its historical sovereignty.

Despite these differences, the general tone of the call has been "candid and constructive," as described by the White House, and both countries have committed to "prioritizing the stability of relations," according to the Chinese version. Both leaders have agreed on the need to prevent the challenges posed by artificial intelligence, climate change and disruptions in supply chains, three issues that will be addressed in formal meetings in the coming weeks.

In addition, Biden has shown Xi his willingness to cooperate to combat the production of narcotics such as fentanyl, whose chemical precursors are often exported from China for production in Mexico and subsequent entry into American territory. On this matter, Washington asks Beijing for "substantive action" to "address the escalation of illicit trafficking," the White House said in the call with journalists.