After more than two hours of talks Thursday, a senior administration source indicated that President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping are considering a face-to-face meeting, with concern over Taiwan once again looming as a flashpoint in the difficult relationship between the two countries.
Top advisers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, joined President Biden on the phone conversation. In order to protect the identity of the official, he refused to discuss the private chat.
As president, Biden travelled often to both China and the United States to spend time with Xi, an experience he regularly brings up when discussing the potential for confrontation and collaboration between the two nations. Although they have not met in person since Biden became president last year, they are still friends.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak started, Xi has only visited Hong Kong once. In November, he has been asked to attend the next G20 summit in Indonesia, which might be a venue for a meeting with President Joe Biden.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s possible travel to Taiwan, a self-governed island that China claims as part of its sovereignty, has sparked a new controversy.
According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi reinforced such allegations during his conversation with Biden.
The ministry warned, “Those who toy with fire will die by it.” In this regard, “it is hoped that the United States of America will be clear-eyed.”
On Taiwan, the White House released its own description of the conversation, in which President Joe Biden “understood that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across Taiwan.”
As the White House put it, “responsibly manage our differences and work together when our interests coincide.” The call, which started at 8:33 a.m. EDT and finished at 10:50 a.m. EDT, was intended to do this.
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put it, “President Xi stressed that approaching and defining China-US relations in terms of strategic competition and viewing China as the primary rival and the most serious long-term challenge would be misperceiving China-US relations and misreading China’s development and would mislead the people of both countries and of international community.”.
U.S. experts noted that although Beijing’s warning about Taiwan’s “playing with fire” drew attention on Thursday, it was not an increase in Xi’s normal diplomatic tone.
Senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s China Hub John Culver says that he hasn’t even scratched the surface of Chinese threat discourse.
China Program Director Yun Sun of the Stimson Center said that both governments stated the talk covered a broad variety of themes, from the epidemic to global warming. More encouraging, in her view, was that they “were going to stick to our stances on Taiwan” instead of just telling one other.
She also noted that Xi, who is running for a third term as president, may have an incentive to ease tensions.
A breakdown in ties with the United States is not an option for them, according to her.
Biden’s phone discussion with Xi took occurred as he seeks new ways to engage with China and limit its global influence. With China’s failure to criticise Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, this relationship has been further strained by their differing views on global health, economic policy and human rights.
The possibility of a Pelosi travel to Taiwan has added fuel to the fire. Because of Russia’s entry into Ukraine, U.S. authorities take this danger very seriously. Beijing has indicated that such a trip would be seen as a provocation.
It will be faced with strong answers,” Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, warned reporters earlier this week if the United States continues on going its own way and threatening China’s bottom line. “The United States will bear all of the repercussions.”
For the first time since Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997, Pelosi will be the highest-ranking elected official from the United States to go to Taiwan. The president informed the media last week that US military authorities considered that the speaker’s travel to the island was “not a smart idea” at this time.
According to US national security spokesperson John Kirby, it’s critical that Biden and Xi stay in frequent contact.
White House press secretary John Kirby told reporters that President Obama wants to keep communication open with Chinese President Xi Jinping because that’s what’s needed. On the one hand, there are areas where we can work together with China, and on the other hand, there are areas where there is apparent friction and stress.
Xi and Biden have not spoken since March, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine was in full swing.
It was announced on Wednesday that President Joe Biden has taken steps to reduce dependency on Chinese manufacturing by encouraging semiconductor firms to establish additional high-tech operations in the United States.
As an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” which seeks to expand commerce between China and other global markets, he also wants to rally global democracies to fund infrastructure development in low- and middle-income countries.
In order to preserve leverage on Beijing, President Biden has maintained Trump-era tariffs on a number of Chinese-made commodities. To help American families cope with the effects of skyrocketing inflation, he is considering loosening some of these restrictions.