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Biden, Xi clash but seek to manage tensions as US officials head to China

WASHINGTON, United States — Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping clashed in a telephone call Tuesday about US trade restrictions on technology and on Taiwan, but they looked to manage their tensions, with two top US officials heading shortly to Beijing.

The nearly two-hour telephone conversation was the two leaders' first direct interaction since a summit in November in California that saw a marked thaw in tone, if not the long-term rivalry, between the world's two largest economies.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will leave Wednesday and visit both Guangzhou, the southern city emblematic of China's manufacturing power, and Beijing, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken due in China in the coming weeks, officials said.

"We believe that there is no substitute for regular communication at the leader level to effectively manage this complex and often tense bilateral relationship," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters after the call.

US officials said the talks were not aimed at managing but rather than resolving differences, and the two leaders were open about heated disagreements.

Xi accused the United States of creating economic risks through Biden's sweeping ban on high-tech exports to China.

"If the United States insists on suppressing China's high-tech development and depriving China of its legitimate right to development, we will not sit idly by," Xi warned, according to Chinese state media.

Biden rebuffed his appeal, with the White House saying he told him "the United States will continue to take necessary actions to prevent advanced US technologies from being used to undermine our national security, without unduly limiting trade and investment."

Biden also refused to back down on TikTok, the blockbuster Chinese-owned app that Congress is threatening to ban unless it changes hands, with Kirby saying Biden insisted he wanted to protect Americans' data security.

Xi, China's most powerful leader in decades, has solidified power at home and taken a tough approach in Asia, with a crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong and assertive confrontations in recent weeks with the Philippines on the South China Sea.

But US observers see Xi as eager to