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China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the White House’s claim that President Biden addressed “genocide” and “forced labor” on a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday told the media that the president raised ethical concerns over forced labor and ethnic genocide in China.
The Chinese MFA denied the alleged conversation entirely, saying, “According to White House Press Secretary, ‘genocide’ & ‘forced labor’ came up in last night’s call between Chinese & US Presidents. That is disinformation.”
A similar message was pushed separately in which the MFA called the alleged conversation “pure lies” and “false information.”
“Pure lies,” MFA spokesperson Lijian Zhao said of the White House’s claim. “White House spokesperson said the issues of genocide and forced labor were mentioned in the call last night, that is false information.”
China has been accused of wrongfully imprisoning up to 3 million Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, as well as carrying out forced sterilizations and abortions. Chinese authorities claim camps in the region are “re-education” facilities combating Islamic extremism.
Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in December, a bipartisan piece of legislation that prevents the importation of goods made via forced labor in the Xinjiang region.
Biden held his longest call with Xi on Thursday morning amid tensions between the two world powers.
According to a Chinese readout of the call, Xi warned Biden against defying Beijing’s will on Taiwan.
The call — the fifth between Biden and Xi since Biden took office — began at 8:33 a.m. ET and lasted two hours and 17 minutes, the White House said.
Chinese government officials have recently demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cancel a planned trip to Taiwan, saying it is a betrayal of Chinese-U.S. foreign policy agreements.
“The call was a part of the Biden administration’s efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the PRC and responsibly manage our differences and work together where our interests align,” the White House said of the call afterwards. “The call follows the two leaders’ conversation on March 18th and a series of conversations between high-level U.S. and PRC officials.”
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is an island nation off the coast of Asia’s mainland. Taiwan has declared itself independent of the People’s Republic of China and has claimed continuation of governance from pre-revolutionary China.
The People’s Republic of China has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow strip of ocean between the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The Chinese military has frequently sent planes into the area, testing Taiwan’s air defense zone.