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Biden addresses Russia-Ukraine, election security and fentanyl with Xi Jinping

Biden addresses Russia-Ukraine, election security and fentanyl with Xi Jinping

President Joe Biden held a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday morning to address U.S. concerns over China’s trade with Russia amid its war with Ukraine, the issues of cyberattacks and election interference, and efforts to counter illicit narcotics traffic, among other regional and global matters, according to the administration.

The “check-in” call between Biden and Xi was an opportunity for the top level leaders to discuss tough issues and try to ensure that they are responsibly managing the competition between the U.S. and China, a senior administration official said Monday evening.

“Intense competition requires intense diplomacy to manage tensions, address misperceptions and prevent unintended conflict, and this call is one way to do that,” the official said.

China’s trade with Russia as that nation wages war against Ukraine is certain to come up, the official said, noting that the topic has been part of the diplomatic conversations between the U.S. and China since the start of the war. The official said the U.S. has grown more concerned over China helping to rebuild Russia’s defense industrial base.

The Biden administration has undertaken a whole-of-government effort to protect elections against foreign adversaries and continues to underscore its concerns with China and other countries, the official said, adding that it’s not enough to take the Chinese at their word when they say whether they will take action on that and other matters, but requires verification of Beijing’s efforts. The administration is also committed to conveying to the Chinese government the U.S. concerns about cyberattacks that compromise critical infrastructure.

The official said areas where interests align include counternarcotics, risk and safety issues related to artificial intelligence, re-establishing communication between U.S. and Chinese military leaders and climate issues. In his call with Xi, Biden was expected to emphasize the need for continued progress and substantive action on counternarcotics to address the rise of illicit narcotics trafficking.

The call was also an opportunity for Biden to reaffirm the longtime “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as China’s only legal government amid Xi’s efforts to reunify Taiwan with mainland China, and to reiterate the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, especially with regard to the May presidential inauguration in Taiwan, the official said.

Biden could also raise concerns over China’s destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, including recent actions by Chinese coast guard ships that posed dangers to routine Philippine maritime operations, the official said.

While Biden and Xi last spoke over the phone in July 2022, the two leaders met in Bali in November 2022 and held a summit meeting in California in November last year, the official said.

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