Biden-Xi phone call: US president attacks on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan and trade

First contact between the two leaders. The new administration wants to continue Trump's tough policy, but with a different approach. Washington: involve allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. China task force created in the Pentagon. US warships continue to challenge Chinese interests.

Washington (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The ongoing repression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang; the suppression of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong; the acts of aggression towards Taiwan and unfair business practices.

In his first phone call with Xi Jinping, the new US President Joe Biden attacked his Chinese counterpart on several fronts revealing a policy closely aligned to that of his predecessor, Donald Trump. The telephone call took place yesterday: a courtesy gesture from Biden on the eve of the Chinese New Year, which begins tomorrow.

Xi responded as expected to Biden's criticism: Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan are internal affairs and Washington must not interfere. Chinese state media reports that the Beijing leader even warned that a conflict would be disastrous for both sides.

A few days ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Trump was right to pursue a tougher policy towards China. Compared to the former White House tenant, however, the new administration wants to promote a more coordinated approach with allies and regional partners.

Washington reiterated that it will continue to protect Japan's interests with respect to the Senkaku Islands. The atolls in the East China Sea are administered from Tokyo, but claimed by China (which calls them Diaoyu).

In his talks with the leaders of India and Australia, Biden stressed his willingness to work to promote a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region. Yesterday Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's representative in the US, met Sung Kim, a senior State Department official. The two stressed the need to deepen the ties between the two countries.

The phone call between Biden and Xi came just hours after the US president announced the creation of a Pentagon task force to review the strategy towards China.

Meanwhile, US ships continue to operate in the "hot" areas of East Asia. Two US aircraft carriers (Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz) sail in the South China Sea; on February 8, the destroyer John S. McCain approached the Paracel Islands, partly occupied by China but claimed by other countries in the region.

Last week, a Washington warship crossed the Taiwan Strait - the first time that such a crossing had been made under the Biden presidency.