Sunday, December 5, 2021

Warning "Reunification Biden worried about human rights situation in China

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China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden met for the first time in person – albeit by video. Both praise the atmosphere of the conversation, but differences are also clearly noticeable.

US President Joe Biden addressed the human rights situation in the People’s Republic at his first online summit with China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping. Biden expressed concern about China’s handling of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, the suppression of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, the crackdown on Tibet and human rights in China in general, the White House said on Tuesday night. The US President also made it clear “that American workers and industries must be protected from the unfair trade and economic practices of the People’s Republic of China”.

According to the White House, Biden underlined that the US remains committed to its one-China policy, according to which Beijing is seen as the legitimate representative of China. He reiterated that the US firmly opposed “unilateral efforts” to change the status quo in Taiwan or to undermine cross-strait peace and stability. With this, Biden was referring to the threats made by the communist leadership to conquer Taiwan for “reunification”. Beijing regards Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic, while the island republic of 23 million people regards itself as independent.

According to the White House, Biden also emphasized that the US continues to feel bound by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, with which the US has committed itself to the island’s defenses. With reference to this US law, the US supplies arms to Taiwan.

The White House said Biden had stressed the need to ensure that competition between the US and China does not degenerate into conflict. The lines of communication must remain open.

After the end of the conversation, the Chinese government initially made positive statements. The meeting was “far-reaching, in-depth, outspoken, constructive, substantial and productive,” commented Foreign Office spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Tuesday in a first short reaction on Twitter. “It helps to expand mutual understanding.”

Xi had previously warned Biden about a confrontation. In her video conference, Xi said, according to state media, both sides must deal constructively with their differences “in order to prevent Sino-US relations from deviating from course and getting out of hand.”

It is normal for the two countries to have disagreements. The decisive factor, however, is to get this under control constructively and to prevent any tightening. “Of course, China has to protect its own sovereignty, security and development interests,” Xi Jinping emphasized. The US should handle this carefully.

After he first welcomed Biden as “my old friend” and called for more cooperation between the two largest economies in the world, he warned Biden against “playing with fire” on the Taiwan question, according to the Chinese state media. Taiwanese independence advocates have repeatedly tried to get support from the United States, the news agency Xinhua quoted the head of state as saying. “This trend is dangerous and like playing with fire. And those who play with fire are burned.”

China’s president compared both powers with two ocean liners: “We have to stabilize the rudder so that the two gigantic ships China and the USA can move forward against wind and waves without deviating from course, stalling or colliding.”

The video conference lasted around three and a half hours. The White House said it was longer than expected. The conversation was respectful and open. Xi and Biden had previously spoken on the phone twice, the last time in September.

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