President Joe Biden called the Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping Wednesday, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, according to the White House.
Presidential staff provided a readout of the call, asserting Biden expressed “fundamental concern” about China’s “coercive and unfair economic practices” and also spoke about the governments’ crackdown in Taiwan and human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
President Xi pushed back on Biden’s rhetoric, according to China’s state-run propaganda outlet the Global Times, reminding him the United States should “respect” China’s actions in domestic affairs.
Biden also spoke about his priorities with Xi, according to the White House, on “countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation.”
The White House said Biden remained committed to working with China as long as it served American interests.
“President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies,” the readout concluded.
The Global Times noted Biden also “conveyed festive greetings to the Chinese people and wished the Chinese people a happy and prosperous New Year.”
Biden and Xi have a longstanding relationship that began during former President Barack Obama’s administration when Biden was the vice president.
“I know him pretty well,” Biden said in an interview with CBS on Sunday. “He’s very bright and he’s very tough and – I don’t mean it as a criticism it’s just a reality – he doesn’t have a democratic…bone in his body.”