While tensions between Washington and Beijing are rising, President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had a lengthy and open talk regarding Taiwan on Thursday. Biden had previously expressed hope for the world’s most crucial country-to-country relationship to be stabilized.
Since Xi is reluctant to travel because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the two presidents did resolve to begin organizing their first face-to-face summit. Some potential areas of cooperation, like climate change, were also explored.
Taiwan, on the other hand, turned out to be one of the most divisive topics. In light of US officials‘ concerns over a potential Chinese move on the self-governing island, the situation has grown to be a major cause of conflict. The Biden administration is working diligently to diffuse the situation before it spirals out of control. Beijing has also issued warnings in response to a potential visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The two hours and seventeen minutes of conversation on Thursday covered the subject in great detail. According to China’s version of events, Xi gave Biden a foreboding warning.
“It is forbidden to disregard public opinion, and you get burned if you play with fire. I hope the US side can clearly realize this “He told Biden, the official news agency of China reported.
The White House provided a less detailed summary of the call.
President Biden emphasized that the US position on Taiwan has not changed and that Washington “strongly opposes unilateral moves to disrupt the status quo or threaten peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to a US readout.
The Taiwan debate was described as “straight and honest” by a senior US administration source, who minimized Xi’s caution, claiming that the Chinese leader was routinely forewarning of the dangers of “playing with fire.”
Since February 2021, Biden and Xi have spoken on the phone five times. Prior to the meeting, US officials warned that a variety of subjects, including the conflict in Ukraine and the tensions around Taiwan, would certainly come up.
The likelihood of relations with Beijing materially improving, though, was slim. Instead, Biden’s advisers believe that keeping a personal relationship with Xi can, at most, prevent a mistake that could result in conflict.
This is the kind of relationship-building that President Biden strongly supports, even with countries with which you may have serious differences, according to National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby this week.
The two team leaders discussed how much work they had done for their teams during the course of Thursday’s conversation, including setting up the potential in-person meeting. As presidential counterparts, they have not yet personally interacted.
When a number of summits take place in Asia in November, including the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, Thailand, there may be an opportunity for a summit. According to those with knowledge of the situation, US officials hope to set up such a meeting on the sidelines of one of the summits.
The controversy over Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan led to the preparation for Biden and Xi’s phone talk. Neither party acknowledged that Pelosi’s proposals were expressly brought up.
White House officials said Biden hadn’t yet made up his mind and that the concerned wouldn’t be a major part of his meeting with Xi, but he is presently considering whether to lift certain tariffs imposed on China under Trump in an effort to reduce inflation.
Instead, the source of the current tensions is China’s growing aggression in the area, particularly in relation to Taiwan and the South China Sea. Without clear lines of communication, US officials worry that misunderstandings might turn into inadvertent conflict.
The way Beijing reacts to Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan is one example of this.
Over the past week, administration representatives have been quietly trying to persuade the House speaker of the dangers associated with traveling to the autonomous island. According to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, he spoke with Pelosi on Wednesday to share his “assessment of the security situation.”
Pelosi hasn’t made any official announcements regarding her travel arrangements, which aren’t set in stone.
“I never discuss my travels. It puts me in risk, “Wednesday was her date.
Even yet, Beijing’s reaction to the rumor that the third-in-line to the US presidency was considering a trip to Taiwan was excessive because Beijing views trips by senior American officials as a symbol of diplomatic relations with the island.
In response to inquiries about Pelosi’s rumored trip to Taipei, Ministry of Defense Spokesperson Tan Kefei said: “If the US insists on taking its own course, the Chinese military will never sit idly by, and it will definitely take strict and serious actions to thwart any external force’s interference and separatist’s schemes for “Taiwan independence,” and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The rhetoric, according to the White House, only served to “totally unneeded” exacerbate tensions, calling the remarks “unnecessary” and “unhelpful.”
They also exposed what US officials allege is a Chinese official’s misinterpretation of the significance of Pelosi’s planned visit. The sources hypothesized that China would confuse Pelosi’s visit for one by an official government envoy because Pelosi and Biden are both Democrats. Chinese authorities are concerned that they rarely, if ever, distinguish between Pelosi and Biden.
This puts further pressure on the call between Biden and Xi. On whether Pelosi’s visit would be brought up or how much it would affect the conversation, officials stayed mum. However, the conversations may become tense due to China’s apparent confusion over the differences between the White House and Congress.
Administration officials are concerned about Pelosi’s trip for a number of reasons, including timing. It would take place at a delicate moment because Beijing’s leadership is under pressure to project authority before the upcoming Chinese Communist Party congress, where Xi is expected to run for an unprecedented third term. Chinese party officials are expected to begin laying the framework for that gathering in the coming weeks.
Prior to the crucial meeting, Xi finds himself in a politically difficult scenario as China has reported its worst economic performance in two years.
When they were each other’s country’s vice presidents, Biden and Xi spent a lot of time together while touring throughout China and the US and developing a friendship.
The previous time Biden spoke with Xi was in March, when he tried to persuade the Chinese president to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Officials have been closely observing Beijing’s response to the invasion in the hopes that the largely unanimity of the western response — which had harsh set of economic sanctions and huge supply of armaments — will provide some insight as China examines its moves toward Taiwan.
According to the sources, there is a remote chance that China will misjudge how to react to a prospective Pelosi visit. According to reports,Biden administration officials are worried that China might try to cancel a future visit to Taiwan by establishing a no-fly zone over Taiwan, thereby escalating tensions in the region.
That still has a slight chance, according to the reports. The likelihood that China increases its flights even further into Taiwan’s air defense zone is thought to be more feasible, and this may lead to fresh discussions about potential reactions from Taiwan and the US, the reports stated. What those possible answers would include was not specified.