Boris Johnson, Biden Discuss UK-US Coordination on China Policy

January 24, 2021 Updated: January 24, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the need for coordination on China and other foreign policy priorities in a phone call on Saturday.

The leaders discussed “the need for coordination on shared foreign policy priorities, including China, Iran, and Russia,” the White House said in a statement. Biden “conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalize transatlantic ties, underscoring the critical role of NATO to our collective defense and shared values.”

Johnson also said the two leaders “looked forward to deepening the close alliance” between Britain and the United States.

“Building on the UK and U.S.’ long history of cooperation in security and defence, the leaders re-committed to the NATO alliance and our shared values in promoting human rights and protecting democracy,” Johnson’s office said in a statement.

Over the last four years, the Trump administration confronted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on a range of issues, including unfair trade practices, espionage, malign influence in the United States, security threats posed by Chinese technology, and its human rights abuses against religious minorities and Hong Kong residents.

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Jan. 20 expressed hope that the Biden administration will continue to confront threats posed by the CCP.

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Jan. 19 that Trump “was right in taking a tougher approach” toward the Chinese regime, but that he disagrees with the approach.

Blinken said there is “no doubt” that the regime “poses the most significant challenge of any nation-state to the United States.” He also acknowledged that the previous consensus that had informed the U.S. policy of engagement toward China—that “economic liberalization would lead to political liberalization” in the country—was wrong.

The United States, he said, needs to deal with the regime from a “position of strength” through working with allies, and engaging and leading international institutions, rather than let the regime exert more influence on them.

During Saturday’s phone call, Johnson “warmly welcomed” Biden’s decision to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change and the World Health Organization (WHO), Downing Street said.

Johnson’s office said the two leaders “discussed the benefits of a potential free trade deal,” but the White House did not mention trade in its readout of the phone call.

Frank Fang and Cathy He contributed to this report.