China-U.S. confrontation a disaster for both countries, Xi tells Biden

FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

BEIJING (Reuters) - Confrontation between China and the United States would be a disaster and the two sides should re-establish the means to avoid misjudgments, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in their first telephone call as leaders.

The call on Thursday Asia time, but Wednesday in Washington, was the first since Biden took office and comes as Beijing and Washington clash over issues from trade, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, Taiwan and reports of human rights crimes against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Xi reiterated during the call that cooperation was the only choice and that the two countries need to properly manage disputes in a constructive manner, according to an account of the conversation reported by Chinese state television.

He also said Beijing and Washington should re-establish various mechanisms for dialogue in order to understand each others’ intentions and avoid misunderstandings, the report said.

Xi also told Biden that he hopes the United States will cautiously handle matters related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang that deal with matters of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to an account of the discussions reported by Chinese state television on Thursday.

Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Michael Perry