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Biden administration indicates in no hurry to engage China

Washington – The Biden administration indicated yesterday it is in no hurry to engage with China and would do so once it was in “lockstep” with allies and partners.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told briefing she could not say when a call might take place between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden, who has spoken to many world leaders since taking office on Jan. 20.

She said that with the Senate confirmation of Tony Blinken as US Secretary of State, “there are additional layers to engage with the Chinese.”

But both Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price said speaking to allies and partners came first.

Price told a briefing there were issues, including climate change, “in which it is our national interest to cooperate on a limited basis with China.”

He said US alliances and partnerships were a “force multiplier across any range of challenges, and that includes in our relationship with Beijing.

“So, as a first step we want to make sure that we are in lockstep with those allies, in lockstep with those partners, and then … you can expect that there will be engagement in several areas with China.”

The Biden administration has not fully articulated its strategy towards China, the world’s second largest economy and a strategic competitor, but has indicated it will broadly continue the tough approach taken by former President Donald Trump and vowed to “out-compete” Beijing.

Xi congratulated Biden on his election, even though Biden called him a “thug” during the campaign and vowed to lead an international effort to “pressure, isolate and punish China.”

Psaki declined to say whether China had requested a call with Biden.

“Of course, the relationship with China is going to be multi layered, we’ll deal with climate, we’ll deal with the economy, we’ll deal with security,” she said.

China’s top diplomat called yesterday for US-China relations to be put back on a predictable and constructive path, while saying Washington should respect Beijing’s position on Taiwan and stop meddling in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.

Asked about the comments, Price said China should “cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected leadership.”

Biden’s administration has endorsed a last-minute Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide against Muslims in Xinjiang. — Reuters

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