Biden speaks with China’s Xi in first call since November meeting

Washington — President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone Tuesday, the White House said, marking the first time the two leaders have talked since they met in-person last November.

The president and his Chinese counterpart discussed artificial intelligence, counternarcotics and climate issues, according to the White House’s summary of the call. A senior administration official who previewed the call said Mr. Biden was also set to stress the need for peace and stability in Taiwan before next month’s inauguration of Lai Ching-te, who won the island’s presidential election in January, and reiterate the U.S. commitment to the longstanding “One China” policy.

The White House said the discussion was “candid and constructive,” and touched on a variety of bilateral, regional and global issues. Mr. Biden and Xi “welcomed ongoing efforts to maintain open channels of communication and responsibly manage the relationship through high-level diplomacy and working-level consultations in the weeks and months ahead,” according to the White House.

Mr. Biden and Xi met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco last fall, and the two agreed to keep open lines of communication in part to prevent unintended conflict. The leaders made progress during their meeting on resuming military-to-military communications and cracking down on fentanyl.

President Biden greets China's President President Xi Jinping at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California, on Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023.
President Biden greets China’s President President Xi Jinping at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California, on Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023. Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Tuesday’s call was part of the ongoing effort between the two leaders to maintain a regular dialogue, according to the senior administration official, and the president was expected to discuss the importance of bolstering those lines of communication.

Mr. Biden raised China’s support for Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine and its recent actions in the South China sea, the White House said, including recent incidents involving Filipino vessels off Second Thomas Shoal. The U.S. has warned that under a 1951 treaty, it would defend the Philippines from an armed attack.

The president also emphasized the need for continued action to address illegal narcotics trafficking and restrict the flow of certain precursor chemicals used to make unlawful synthetic drugs, according to the White House.

The call between Mr. Biden and Xi comes as senior U.S. officials prepare to travel to China. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is set to depart Washington on Wednesday for a six-day trip that will include engagements in Guangzhou and Beijing, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also set to visit China, though it’s unclear when.

Kristin Brown contributed to this report.

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