White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 8:34 AM PT – Saturday, September 11, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke about the phone call between Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. In a press conference on Friday, Psaki said the discussion was reportedly “respectful and candid” as Joe Biden made it clear to the Chinese leader where his administration’s policy stood in regards to China acting outside of international norms.
However, the call was beyond overdue as it marked the first time the two have spoken in seven months. High level engagement between the leaders’ top advisers has been noticeably unproductive.
“What we’ve seen is that the importance here is about engaging Xi directly at the leader level due to the centralization of power and the power that’s in his hands,” Psaki stated. “Hence, that’s the importance of the call. It covered a range of topics.”
Psaki gave props to Biden for allegedly initiating the call, despite it being the second time the two leaders have spoken since Biden took office. Although Psaki didn’t go into detail about their 90 minute conversation, she did say the call was about “keeping the channels of communication open between the two countries.”
Psaki then reassured one of the Biden administration’s main concerns was the COVID-19 virus.
“We continue to support Phase two of WHO’s investigation in China,” she explained. “We call on China to allow further studies of COVID-19’s origins in China.”
Other topics discussed among the leaders were climate change, epidemic prevention and control, and economic recovery. Due to the unstable relationship the two countries have had in the past, Psaki added the Biden administration has taken a different approach in managing communications between China and the U.S.
“One of the topics the presidents also discussed is the importance of being able to have private discussions between the two leaders,” she explained. “This is in contrast to some of the other interactions we’ve had at lower levels with the PRC and so, yes, it was a topic raised, but I’m not going to go into further detail.”
Meanwhile, the White House says they are hopeful the two nations could work together, even though concerns still surround China’s cooperation.