China’s President has warned Joe Biden to “play with fire” about Taiwan, as tensions rise over a rumoured US trip to the disputed island.
Xi Jinping and his American counterpart spoke more than two hours Thursday as Beijing expressed its concern over a possible visit to the Chinese-claimed Island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
According to Chinese state media reports, Mr Xi stated that the United States should abide the “one- China principle”. He also stressed that it strongly opposed Taiwanese independence or interference from external forces.
Beijing has issued escalating warnings regarding repercussions if Ms Pelosi – a leading Democrat, like Mr Biden – visits Taiwan. It says it is facing increasing Chinese economic and military threats.
Continue reading: A poorly timed Taiwan visit could have caused a crisis.
Chinese state media quotes Mr Xi saying to Mr Biden, “Those who play with fire are only going to get burned.”
“(We) hope that the US side will see this clearly.”
The White House published its own description of the conversation on Taiwan. It stated that Mr Biden “understood that the United States policy had not changed” and that the United States strongly opposed unilateral efforts to alter the status quo or undermine stability in the Taiwan Strait.
According to US officials the agenda included Russia’s invasion in Ukraine which China has not yet condemned.
In March, Biden warned that there would be “consequences” if Beijing provided material support to Russia’s war. The US government does not believe this has been done since.
However, the exchange was another chance to manage competition between the world’s two largest economies, whose ties have been increasingly clouded by tensions over democratically-governed Taiwan, which Mr Xi has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Washington has no official relations with Taiwan. It follows a “one China policy”, which recognizes Beijing and not Taipei diplomatically.
It is required by US law to provide the island with the necessary means to defend itself. Congress has been under increasing pressure to give more explicit support.
“This is about keeping communication open with President of China. One of the most consequential bilateral relations that we have, both in that region and around the globe, because it touches so many,” John Kirby, White House national security spokesperson, told reporters before the call.
Lord Darroch, a former UK national security advisor, agreed with this view and welcomed the talks.
Sky News was told by him that China is the second most powerful economic country in the world, a major trading partner for the West, and in effect, the global workshop for a lot of industrial products.
It’s a strategic problem. It bullies its neighbors and has sided with Putin in Ukraine.
“I believe there is still a chance for China to become a constructive member in the international community over the next few decades, but there are many things to be concerned about.”