Biden Tells China’s Xi: Both Nations Mustn’t ‘Veer Into Conflict’

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
September 10, 2021 Updated: September 10, 2021

President Joe Biden on Thursday held his second phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since becoming U.S. president—the first call between the two leaders in seven months.

The White House in a short statement said the two leaders in their approximately 90-minute phone conversation had “a broad, strategic discussion,” including “areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge.”

“This discussion, as President Biden made clear, was part of the United States’ ongoing effort to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the PRC [People’s Republic of China],” the statement added. “The two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”

According to multiple reports which cited senior Biden administration officials, the call was initiated by Biden with the aim of setting “guardrails and parameters” in the U.S.-China relationship.

Beijing released a lengthy statement on the phone call, a contrast to the short statement from the White House. According to China’s state-run media Xinhua, Xi told Biden that it was United States’ recent policies on China that have “caused serious difficulties” for the bilateral ties. 

The Chinese statement also said Biden told Xi that the United States “has no intention of changing its one-China policy.” 

China’s hawkish state-run media Global Times has further twisted the Chinese statement to promote CCP propaganda. In a tweet, the outlet wrote Biden said the U.S. “has no intention of change its one-China principle.”

The United States has long held a “one-China policy,” which asserts that there is only one sovereign state with the name “China,” but it is different from the “one-China principle” under which the Chinese regime asserts sovereignty over Taiwan. The Taiwan government has also rejected China’s “one-China principle.” 

The Epoch Times has contacted the White House for comment.

The call comes at a moment when there is no shortage of thorny issues between the two nations, including cybersecurity breaches originating from China, Beijing’s handling of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, and what the White House has labeled as “coercive and unfair” trade practices by Beijing.

The White House is hopeful the two sides can work together on issues of mutual concern—including climate change and preventing a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula—despite growing differences.

Beijing, however, has pushed back against U.S. pressure and increasingly has suggested it could remain broadly uncooperative until Biden dials down criticism on what it deems Chinese internal matters.

The White House readout said the leaders during the call agreed to engage “openly and straightforwardly” on issues where the nations are at odds and where there is agreement.

“President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world,” the White House statement said.

Biden’s comments on the Indo-Pacific were conspicuously missing from the Chinese statement. Instead, Biden allegedly told Xi that the United States was willing to have “more candid exchanges and constructive dialogues” with China, and the United States will bring the Sino-U.S. relationship “back on track,” according to the Chinese statement.

Additionally, Biden also said the United States “looks forward to strengthening communication and cooperation with China” on climate change,” according to the Chinese statement.

Biden from the start of his presidency has sought to put greater focus on China, rallying allies to speak in a more unified voice about Beijing’s human rights record, its trade practices, and its military’s increasingly assertive behavior that has unnerved U.S. allies in the Pacific. He sees Beijing as the most significant economic competitor to the United States and a growing national security concern.

Frank Fang and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.