HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the Group of Seven nations had agreed on a unified approach to China that calls for diversifying supply chains to reduce dependence on one country, and hinted he could talk to China. President soon.
“We are not looking to decouple from China. We are looking to de-risk and diversify our relationship with China,” Biden told a news conference after a three-day summit with G7 leaders. He said the G7 nations are more united than ever in terms of “together resisting economic coercion and standing up to harmful practices that harm our workers”.
G7 leaders outlined a common approach to “de-risk, not decouple” economic engagement with China in a statement issued on Saturday, prompting China’s embassy in Japan to urge the G7 to stop sowing confrontation and division.
Despite the backlash, Biden said he expected a thaw in frosty relations with China “very shortly” after tensions stemming from an incident earlier this year when the United States shot down a Chinese zeppelin over sensitive military sites.
“We have to have an open hotline,” Biden said. He said he had agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year to keep communications open, but that everything changed after “this ridiculous balloon that had two cargo cars worth of spy equipment”.
Biden indicated that a shift in relations between the United States and China may happen soon, echoing what he told reporters before his departure.
“In terms of talking to them, I think you’re going to see a thaw pretty soon,” Biden said.
On the issue of tensions between China and Taiwan, Biden said that there is a clear understanding among most allies that if China acts unilaterally against the autonomous island of Taiwan, there will be retaliation.
“We will not tell China what it can do, but in the meantime we will put Taiwan in a position where they can defend themselves,” he said.
Taiwan 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 intensified military pressure on the democratically-ruled island.
Biden reiterated that the United States and G7 allies would not trade materials that would allow China to build weapons of mass destruction, but insisted it was “not an act of hostility.”
He said he would not consider easing restrictions imposed on China on those items, but negotiation is under way to ease sanctions on Chinese General Li Shangfu, who was appointed in March as China’s new defense minister.
Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Trevor Honeycutt, writing by Andrea Shalal and William McLean
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