Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held a two-hour, “frank and in-depth” telephone conversation during which the Chinese president warned his US counterpart that he would not play with the fire over Taiwan, while Biden stated that the US position “has not changed”. “. “On the island.
“He who plays with fire will get burned,” Sim told Biden, quoted by the New China News Agency, as Beijing has been threatening “repercussions” for days if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to visit Taiwan. .
“I hope the US side fully understands this,” Xi added.
“The two presidents believed that their telephone conversation was sincere and profound,” the Chinese agency added.
For his part, the US president stressed that US policy towards Taiwan “has not changed”, according to the White House statement.
“In Taiwan, President Biden emphasized that US policy has not changed and that he firmly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said in a statement. After more than two hours of phone conversation with the president, the statement was released.
China considers Taiwan, with a population of 24 million, as part of its territory and does not rule out a return to its sovereignty, even by force, as long as the island enjoys a democratic regime. Taiwan broke away from China in 1949 after a civil war.
The call, the fifth virtual summit between the two leaders since Biden took office a year and a half ago, began at 8:33 am Washington time (12:33 pm GMT) and lasted more than two hours, the White House said in a statement. . a declaration.
In addition to the trade dispute between Beijing and Washington, the two superpowers are currently at loggerheads over Taiwan.
Beijing opposes any initiative that gives international legitimacy to the Taiwanese government and any official communication between Taiwan and other countries, and therefore opposes Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
Although US officials regularly visit Taiwan, which is separated from mainland China by a narrow strip of water, Beijing sees Pelosi’s visit as a major provocation.
Pelosi has yet to confirm whether she will go to Taiwan, but if she does, she will be the highest U.S. elected official to visit Taiwan since then-President Newt Gingrich’s 1997 visit.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that if Pelosi requests “military support, we will do whatever it takes to make sure she does her job right.”
Tensions over Pelosi’s visit are just the tip of the iceberg, as US officials fear Xi may consider using force to impose control on the democratic island of Taiwan.
In the past, an invasion or any other military action was unlikely, but observers see it as a possibility.
Biden’s conflicting statements about Taiwan did little to ease tensions. Asked whether the United States would defend Taiwan, the US president said in May that he would until the White House confirmed there were no changes to Washington’s “strategic” non-interference policy. The United States does not have formal relations with Taiwan, but it does have extensive informal trade and political relations.
Biden has had a close relationship with Xi for years, but the two men have not seen each other since the former took office due to travel restrictions due to Covid.
The White House emphasized that Biden’s main objective is to get “guarantees” between the two superpowers.
This is aimed at avoiding open conflicts, despite their differences and the growing competition between them in the geopolitical arena.
Presidential spokesman John Kirby said Biden “wants to make sure that the lines of communication are open with President Xi on all issues, whether issues we agree on or issues that we have great difficulty with, and that they still they can. quiet conversation.” call.”
Asked whether Biden would raise the 25% import tax that his predecessor, Donald Trump, imposed on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, Kirby said he had yet to make a decision.
“We think its predecessor’s rates are bad. We see costs have increased for American families and small businesses, as well as farm owners,” said Kirby, also pointing to “some harmful Chinese business practices.”
“I don’t have the president’s decision to announce about taxes. He’s trying to solve this problem.”
According to a US official, who asked not to be named, the US and Chinese presidents “have agreed that their teams will try to find a suitable time for both sides to hold this meeting.” However, the time of the meeting was not disclosed.
The two sides described Thursday’s call as “candid,” a diplomatic term that suggests there are still many differences between the two countries.
“On the issue of tariffs, President Biden explained to President Xi… the core issue of China’s unfair trade practices that harm American workers and American families, but did not discuss possible actions that could be taken,” the official said. American.
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