New Delhi (NVI): US President Joe Biden, in his first conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping after taking office last month, underscored concerns over the issue of human rights violations in Xinjiang, China’s western province which has witnessed oppressive treatment of millions of Uighur Muslims in the region.
According to the White House, the two leaders spoke late Wednesday, as Biden expressed deep concern over human rights abuses in Xinjian, besides Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices” and “crackdown” in Hong Kong.
The White House release further stated that President Joe Biden also shared his greetings and well wishes with the Chinese people on the occasion of Lunar New Year.
“President Biden affirmed his priorities of protecting the American people’s security, prosperity, health, and way of life, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said in a statement.
“President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” it added.
The conversation assumes significance as the Chinese President had last spoken to former US President Donald Trump in March last year, after which the relations between the two countries hit a new low in decades.
The two leaders also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation, read the White House statement.
“President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies,” it added.
To recall, in July last year, the US had sanctioned a top member of China’s Communist Party along with three other senior officials and a Chinese entity involved in systematic human rights abuses of Muslim minorities and ethnic Kazakhs in China’s western province of Xinjiang.
The Trump administration had likened China’s mass detention of more than 1 million Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang to the worst human rights abuses since the 1930s, when 6 million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust.