President Joe Biden urged China’s Xi Jinping to cooperate on key issues even as they spar on other topics, as his administration grows frustrated over what it perceives as a lack of seriousness in Beijing’s engagement with American officials. The leaders of the world’s biggest economies spoke by telephone for 90 minutes on Thursday night, their first discussion since February. It came as the relationship becomes increasingly adversarial, with a senior administration official telling reporters that Biden initiated the call after meetings involving his cabinet officials and Chinese counterparts over the past months remained unfruitful. “The two leaders had a broad, strategic discussion in which they discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge,” the White House said in an account of the conversation. “They agreed to engage on both sets of issues openly and straightforwardly,” it added, saying they “discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.” The US has sought to separate issues like climate change from more contentious ones like trade, human rights and democracy in places like Hong Kong, while Beijing has linked them all together.
While it doesn’t appear like the call changed those dynamics, optimism over improved relations helped put China’s yuan on pace for its strongest close in nearly three months. Xi told Biden that the “China policy adopted by the United States for some time has caused serious difficulties” in relations, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. He said China was ready to cooperate on issues ranging from the global economy to climate change, but that it needed to be done “on the basis of respecting each other’s core concerns.” Biden’s goal was to see whether personal engagement with Xi could set the relationship on a more serious path and help advance issues where both sides can cooperate, the official said. The tone between the two leaders was familiar and candid, the US official said. Xi speaks with German Chancellor Merkel China's President Xi Jinping urged Germany to promote a "correct" policy towards China within the European Union in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a Chinese state media report on Friday. He also said he hopes the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment could be ratified soon, according to a report of the call by CCTV.