In his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Joe Biden voiced his concerns about Hong Kong and Xinjiang and discussed a range of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic.

During the phone conversation, 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, according to a White House 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,” said the statement.

The phone call came after Biden announced the formation of a Defense Department-wide China task force to deal with “growing challenges” by China.

“We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” Biden told reporters during his first visit as president to the Pentagon.

Among the issues the two leaders exchanged views on were COVID-19 and the challenges of global health security, climate change and preventing weapons proliferation.

“President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies,” said the statement.

According to the president, China is America’s “most serious competitor.”

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