Accessibility links

Breaking News

VOA Asia Weekly: Biden, Xi Hold ‘Candid and Constructive’ Call

VOA Asia Weekly: Biden, Xi Hold ‘Candid and Constructive’ Call
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:05:07 0:00

Deadly earthquake in Taiwan. Another North Korea missile launch. Indonesian president-elect visits China and Japan. South Koreans say goodbye to first giant panda born in the country.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have what the White House describes as a “candid and constructive call.”

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington.

That story is coming up, but first, making headlines:

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said her government is coordinating efforts to respond to Wednesday’s deadly earthquake on Taiwan’s east coast. The self-governing island that China considers its territory experienced a magnitude 7.4 earthquake on Wednesday, marking the strongest quake in 25 years.

"Immediately after the earthquake, we initiated a disaster relief program at both the city hall and the ward office. Our focus is on ensuring public safety for both people and buildings."

At least 10 people died and more than 1,000 are reported injured.

Residents of Japan’s Okinawa Islands fled to high ground on Wednesday after the earthquake in Taiwan triggered tsunami warnings. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported that a tsunami wave of 30 centimeters or about 1 foot was detected about 15 minutes after the earthquake.

North Korea fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday. South Korea’s military said the launch is related to a new intermediate-range hypersonic missile, which can fly about 600 kilometers before plunging into the sea.

Indonesia’s president-elect, Prabowo Subianto, paid a visit to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday. Prabowo stated his intention to “further strengthen” relations between the two countries, as well as deepen security and economic cooperation.

“You have chosen China as the destination of your first post-election visit and made a special trip to China during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.”

Prabowo’s visit to Japan came two days after his visit to China, where he expressed his desire for close ties to Chinese President Xi Jinping. This visit to China marked his first overseas visit since winning the election last month.

US President Joe Biden discussed key issues with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on a call Tuesday. Biden reiterated his request for China to refrain from interfering with the upcoming US Presidential election. VOA’s Anita Powell reports.

The White House described Tuesday’s phone call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping – which follows their in-person meeting last year – as “candid and constructive.”

This time, the two covered a range of issues they had previously discussed in November,

including joint counternarcotics efforts, military communication, and the risks of artificial intelligence.

"We believe that there is no substitute for regular communication at the leader level to effectively manage this complex and often tense bilateral relationship. Both presidents agreed to pick up the phone and speak when needed.”

Xi, in a statement, said both leaders “found the phone call to be candid and constructive.” But he stressed that disagreements remain – notably about the status of Taiwan, which China claims.

“The China-U.S. relationship is beginning to stabilize, and this is welcomed by both societies and the international community. On the other hand, the negative factors of the relationship have also been growing, and this requires attention from both sides.”

The White House said Biden reiterated – but did not advance – previous concerns about Chinese interference in the upcoming U.S. election. Xi did not mention the topic in his account of the call.

Just last month, the British parliament voted to impose sanctions over Beijing-linked hacks of its Electoral Commission and parliament. U.S. intelligence officials have also warned lawmakers that Chinese hackers are preparing to “wreak havoc and cause real-world harm” to the U.S.

China’s government last month showcased how it uses digital tools to bolster – not hamper – democracy. But analysts point to a state-sponsored Chinese influence campaign – known as “Spamouflage” – that does the opposite and encouraged Biden to push back.

“There needs to be very clear and consistent communication about election interference. And I don't just mean hacking into voting systems, which in itself is obviously one of the most heavy-handed forms of election interference, but even the ones that involve manipulating public opinion in deceptive ways, or even just trying to discourage people from voting, which we have seen from operations that have been linked to China in the past.”

The White House did not say when the two leaders would next speak – but Xi, in his statement, said he welcomed this week’s visit to China by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Anita Powell, VOA News, Washington.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

Finally, we take you to South Korea, where a large crowd of fans braved steady rain Wednesday morning to bid a final goodbye to Fu Bao, the first giant panda born in South Korea. That was in 2020, and she’s now on her way to a new home in China.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.