Xi Jinping and Joe Biden held two hours of “honest and thorough” talks on Thursday, during which the Chinese president warned his American counterpart not to “play with fire” over Taiwan, while Mr Biden assured the American position on the island. “Unchanged”.
“Those who play with fire will get burned,” China’s president warned, while Beijing has for days threatened “consequences” if US chief of deputies Nancy Pelosi goes ahead with her plan to visit Taiwan.
“I hope the American side will fully understand this”, Mr Xi added, as quoted by the new China Agency. According to this state agency, “the two presidents felt that their telephone conversation was honest and thorough”.
For his part, the American president stressed that the United States’ position on Taiwan “has not changed,” the White House said.
“The United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to alter or threaten the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Mr. Biden added, the US executive added in a statement.
Beijing has threatened to annex the democratic island of Taiwan, which it intends to take back by force if necessary.
The phone call, the fifth virtual summit between the two officials since Mr. Biden became president a year and a half ago, began at 8:33 a.m. local time and lasted more than two hours.
Beijing and Washington are already at odds over trade. The two world powers are now at odds with each other over Taiwan.
Beijing is opposed to any formal relationship between Taiwan and other states, opposed to any initiative to give international legitimacy to Taiwan’s authorities, and thus to a potential visit by Nancy Pelosi.
Although US officials frequently visit Taiwan, Beijing considers the visit by Ms Pelosi, one of the top figures in the US state, a major provocation.
US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley told reporters that if Nancy Pelosi requests “military support”, she will “do whatever is necessary to ensure the safe conduct” of her 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 – in May he said the US would defend the island, insisting the White House had not changed its policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ – did not help.
US President Mr. Despite boasting a close relationship with Xi, the two men have not seen each other in person since he took office, largely due to COVID restrictions.
According to the White House, Mr. Biden’s main goal is to put in place “safeguards” to avoid open conflict between the two superpowers despite their differences and their geopolitical rivalry.
Mr. Biden wanted to make sure “the lines of communication are open with President Xi on all issues,” whether they’re issues we agree with or issues that bother us. Importantly, they can always pick up the phone and talk. clearly to each other,” according to executive spokesman John Kirby.
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 the customs tariffs imposed by his predecessor were ill-conceived (…). We believe they raised 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’s working on it,” John Kirby concluded.