(WASHINGTON) US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping began their telephone conversation on Thursday, the White House announced, but it remains to be seen whether the conversation will ease the rising tensions between the two countries over Taiwan and trade. .
Posted at 7:22 pm
Updated at 7:58 am
It was the fifth virtual summit between the two officials since Mr. Biden became president a year and a half ago, but the mutual contempt between China and the United States is becoming harder to hide.
Beijing and Washington are already at odds over trade. The two world powers are now at odds with each other over Taiwan.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said “tensions surrounding China’s aggressive and coercive behavior in the Indo-Pacific” will be high on the agenda.
The latest source of friction to date: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s possible trip to Taiwan.
China considers the island one of its historic provinces, which it has not yet succeeded in reuniting with the rest of the country.
Taiwan is opposed to any initiative to give its authorities international legitimacy, as is any formal contact between Taiwan and other states.
Although US officials visit Taiwan frequently, Beijing considers a visit by Mme Pelosi, one of the most powerful figures in the American state, is a big provocateur.
Washington should “imagine all the consequences” of this potential visit, which Mme Pelosi has yet to confirm, Beijing warned Wednesday.
US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley told the press that if Nancy Pelosi requested “military support”, he would “do what is necessary to ensure the safe conduct” of his affairs.
The tensions surrounding the tour are only part of the problem. US officials fear that President Xi is planning to forcefully impose control on Taiwan.
An invasion or other form of military action, once thought unlikely, is seen by as many observers as possible.
Joe Biden’s contradictory statements on Taiwan — he said in May that the US would defend the island, before the White House insisted the policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ had not changed — didn’t help.
US President Mr. Despite boasting a close relationship with Xi, the two men have not seen each other since he took office, largely due to COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the White House, Mr. Biden’s main goal is to establish “safeguards” for the two superpowers.
This is to avoid open conflict despite their differences and their geopolitical enmity.
Mr. Biden “needs to make sure that the lines of communication with President Xi are open on all matters” to each other, Kirby said.
Asked about Mr Biden waiving some of the 25% tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, the spokeswoman said a decision had not yet been made.
“We think so […] The customs tariffs imposed by his predecessor were badly designed. We believe they have increased costs for American families and small businesses, as well as ranchers,” he said, also referring to “China’s harmful trade practices.”
But “I have not taken any decision to announce tariffs from the President. He is working on it,” he concluded.
The joint executive officer said that the announcement will be made after the interview.