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Taiwan thanks Biden after he raises concerns in call with Xi

ROC Central News Agency

02/11/2021 05:36 PM

Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) Taiwan's government expressed its thanks to U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday after Biden, in his first phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) since taking office, raised concerns about Beijing's increasing pressure against Taiwan.

"We express our admiration and gratitude to President Biden for his concerns about the security of the Taiwan Strait and human rights issues," Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in a statement.

As a member of the international community, Taiwan will continue to work closely with like-minded countries, including the United States, to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, Chang said.

His remarks came after Biden and Xi held their first phone call as leaders on Thursday, during which Biden brought up concerns related to Hong Kong, Taiwan and human rights.

"President 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 a readout of the call released by the White House.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday also thanked Biden for his firm support since assuming office on Jan. 20, and said Taiwan and the U.S. will continue to strengthen their political, economic, and security cooperation.

In his call with Xi, Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people's security, prosperity, health, and way of life, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The two leaders also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the challenges of global health security and climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation, according to the readout.

Meanwhile, China's foreign ministry said Xi told Biden that confrontation between the United States and China would be "disastrous" for both countries and the world, and said the two countries should "re-establish various dialogue mechanisms, read each other's policy intentions accurately, and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation."

As for issues relating to Taiwan and Hong Kong, Xi told Biden those issues "concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and the U.S. should respect China's core interests and "act prudently," according to China's foreign ministry.

Lo Chi-cheng (羅致政), a lawmaker with Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party, thought it significant that the White House readout did not mention pursuing common interests shared by the United States and China.

Instead, he said, it stressed that Biden is committed to pursuing "practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies."

This means that U.S.-China relations in the future will move toward conditional and results-oriented engagements, said Lo, who also serves as the party's international affairs director.

KMT Legislator Chen I-Hsin (陳以信), who sits on the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee, said the Biden-Xi phone call shows that the U.S.' China policy will move from an antagonistic approach toward China under former U.S. President Donald Trump, to "coopetition" -- a combination of competition and cooperation.

That should result in calmer U.S.-China relations, Chen said, but he also felt Biden laid down markers on Taiwan and other issues and that U.S. is criticizing China for becoming increasingly assertive.

(By Christie Chen)

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