U.S. President Joe Biden said that there was no specific reason why he hadn’t spoken to Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. He indicated a different relationship with Beijing from his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“Well, we haven’t had occasion to talk to one another yet,” Biden said on Sunday 7th February in an interview with CBS which was recorded on Friday. “There’s no reason not to call him.”
Biden continued to say that he knew Xi “pretty well” after eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president. “I’ve probably spent more time with Xi Jinping I’m told than any world leader has,” he said.
Biden said his approach to China will vary from that of former President Donald Trump and that Xi knows that because he’s been “sending signals, as well.”
“We need not have a conflict, but there’s going to be extreme competition,” Biden said on “Face the Nation.” More of the interview will air during the CBS Super Bowl pre-game show around 4 PM Eastern time.
Biden said that China’s leader “doesn’t have a democratic, small ‘d,’ bone in his body,” reciting a line he had used on the campaign trail.
Biden has hosted calls with various world leaders since he was inaugurated into office on 20th January 2021. This included Russian President Vladimir Putin, but not Xi. The Chinese president was one of the latest world leaders to congratulate Biden on winning the election over Trump in November.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dodged questions on Monday about Biden’s disapproval of Xi and focused on them needing to work together. “The two sides should work toward the same goal, focus on cooperation, manage differences and promote sound, steady development of bilateral ties,” Wang said during a regular news briefing in Beijing, attending to the fact that the two presidents’ “paths crossed many times before.”
Since the Biden administration came into power, the highest level of communications between the world’s largest economies was a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi on Friday 5th February. Apparently, the call led to the diplomats arguing about democracy and human rights issues.
Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., said the hard talk was “not the right way of doing diplomacy,” when asked about the Blinken-Yang phone call in a CNN interview broadcasted on Sunday.
On “Fareed Zakaria GPS”, he said, “You don’t have an effective foreign policy just by talking tough or playing tough. I think there’s a clear need for a good sense of mutual respect.”
Biden has so far maintained an intent to extend international pressure on China over its human rights practices, while China has recurrently stated the two countries should search for areas for cooperation.