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Biden Talks to Xi About Conflicts, From Ukraine to the Pacific

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Politics|Biden Talks to Xi About Conflicts, From Ukraine to the Pacific


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President Biden aimed to keep relations stable in a call with Xi Jinping of China, but also raised concerns over Beijing's activities around Taiwan, the South China Sea and Russia.

The call was part of the Biden administration's efforts toward the modest goals of managing competition "responsibly," an administration official said.Credit...Bonnie Cash for The New York Times

By Edward Wong and Erica L. Green

Edward Wong reported from Washington and Taipei, Taiwan, and Erica L. Green reported from Washington.

President Biden spoke with Xi Jinping, China's leader, in a call on Tuesday morning that was aimed at addressing a variety of combative and cooperative issues, as the United States grapples with wars and other global crises, U.S. and Chinese officials said.

The topics raised by Mr. Biden included fighting narcotics production, the Middle East conflict, North Korea's nuclear program and China's support of Russia during the Ukraine war, according to a White House summary of the call.

Mr. Biden intended the talk to be a "check-in" rather than a discussion with concrete outcomes, said a senior administration official, who spoke to a small group of reporters on Monday night on the condition of anonymity, as is customary for such Washington briefings. But it was a crucial marker during a pivotal political year and as the countries try to steady a relationship that hit a multi-decade low last year.

John F. Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said on Tuesday that the two leaders had a "candid and constructive" conversation, which he said also included the topics of unfair trade policies, wrongfully detained U.S. citizens and TikTok.

"We believe that there is no substitute for regular communication at the leader level to effectively manage this complex, and often tense bilateral relationship," Mr. Kirby said. "Both presidents agreed: Pick up the phone and speak when needed."

The call took place days ahead of a trip to China by Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, who will be followed soon afterward by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, the official said. Those would be the first visits to China by cabinet members this year; both officials traveled to Beijing last year to stabilize relations after tempers flared during the Chinese spy balloon episode.

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