Joe Biden, Xi Jinping discuss Hong Kong crackdown, Xinjiang human rights abuses

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President Biden spoke by phone on Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking the first time the two leaders have spoken since Mr. Biden took office three weeks ago.

Mr. Biden underscored “his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” according to the White House.

The two also spoke about the coronavirus pandemic, global health security, climate change, and weapons proliferation.

Mr. Biden also affirmed his priority to preserve a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to a readout from the White House.

Mr. Biden vowed in a recent interview with CBS that he will handle Mr. Xi and China very differently than former President Trump did.

“He doesn’t have – I don’t mean as a criticism, just a reality – he doesn’t have a democratic, ‘small d’ bone in his body,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Xi. “The question is, and I’ve said to him all along, that we need not have a conflict but there’s going to be extreme competition.”

Mr. Xi had warned at the World Economic Forum last month that the U.S. risked starting a “new Cold War” if they tried to rally the rest of the world against Beijing.

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