Feb 11, 2021 - World

Biden says call with China's Xi Jinping lasted two hours

President Biden told reporters on Thursday that his call Wednesday evening with China's Xi Jinping lasted two hours.

Why it matters: Biden summed up his view on China during the brief remarks from the Oval Office on Wednesday, saying, "If we don't get moving, they're going to eat our lunch."

  • Biden cited China's efforts on high-speed rail and electric vehicles, saying the U.S. would have to "step up" to compete effectively. The comments came during a meeting with bipartisan senators to discuss infrastructure.
  • Flashback: Biden made almost the exact opposite comments on the campaign trail in 2019. “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man," he said at the time, adding, "they're not competition for us."

Wednesday evening's call covered thorny topics including the crackdown in Hong Kong, China's apparent genocide in Xinjiang, and Beijing's aggression toward Taiwan, according to a White House readout.

  • Biden said Thursday that it was a "good conversation" between two leaders who know each other well based on their interactions while Biden was vice president.

The big picture: Shortly before the call with Xi, Biden announced a new Pentagon task force on China and the White House unveiled the most detailed portrait yet of the administration's policies on China.

  • Senior administration officials told reporters that Biden agreed with Donald Trump's "basic proposition of an intense strategic competition with China," but that he'd approach it very differently.

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