WASHINGTON—President Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since taking office in a call in which he said he raised issues of human rights, trade policy and international security that divide the two countries while also holding open the possibility of working together on climate change and nuclear proliferation.
The call, Wednesday night in Washington, came after Mr. Biden in recent days spoke with a host of allies in Europe and Asia, signaling that he seeks to deal with China as the leader of the world’s democracies rather than solely an American president. The U.S. needs to “join together with others to hold China accountable for its abuses and to shape China’s choices going forward,” said a senior administration official.
A White House statement said Mr. Biden raised his “fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices,” as well as human rights issues and “preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific” region. But it said the leaders discussed cooperation on fighting Covid-19, climate change and other issues.
“I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people,” Mr. Biden tweeted.
The Chinese leader reiterated Beijing’s view that “cooperation is the only correct choice for both sides,” according to a readout from Chinese state media. He said that the U.S. and China should work together on issues such as efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, spur a global economic recovery and maintain regional stability.