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'Silly balloon' changed it all: says US President Biden on US-China ties

Meanwhile, China tells tech makers to stop using Micron chips

Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden (left) shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Hiroshima, Japan | Photo: AP/PTI

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US President Joe Biden on Sunday said the Group of Seven nations had agreed to a united approach to China that called for diversifying supply chains to reduce dependence on one country, and hinted that he could speak with China's president soon.

“We're not looking to decouple from China. We're looking to de-risk and diversify our relationship with China," Biden told a press conference, adding that G7 nations were more unified than ever in terms of “resisting economic coercion together and countering harmful practices that hurt our workers." But the US president, speaking after a three-day meeting of G7 leaders, said he expected a thaw in frosty relations with China “very shortly” after strains caused by an incident earlier this year when the United States shot down a Chinese balloon that flew over sensitive military sites. "We should have an open hotline," Biden said. 

Meanwhile, China's government told users of computer equipment to stop buying products from the biggest US memory chipmaker, Micron Technology Inc. Micron products have unspecified “serious network security risks” that pose hazards to China's information infrastructure and affect national security, the Cyberspace Administration of China said on its website.

“Operators of critical information infrastructure in China should stop purchasing products from Micron Co,” the agency said. 

Biden said he had agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last year to keep communications open, but everything changed after "this silly balloon that was carrying two freight cars worth of spying equipment." Biden suggested a shift in US-China relations could occur soon, echoing his comment to reporters before his departure.

On the issue of tensions between China and Taiwan, Biden said there was a clear understanding among most of the allies that if China were to act unilaterally against Taiwan, there be a response.

“We're not going to tell China what they can do,” he said, "But in the meantime we're going to put Taiwan in a position where they can defend themselves.”

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Saturday to maintain the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait amid high tensions with China, which has stepped up military pressure on the democratically governed island.

Biden reiterated that the United States and G7 allies would not trade in materials that would allow China to build weapons of mass destruction, but that was "not a hostile act." 

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First Published: May 21 2023 | 11:08 PM IST

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