“Those who play with fire get burned,” the Chinese president warned, while Beijing has been threatening for days with “consequences” if the head of US Representative Nancy Pelosi changes her plans to visit Taiwan. carry through.
“I hope the US side will fully understand this,” Xi was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. According to this state agency, “the two presidents recognized that their telephone conversations were honest and thorough”.
The White House said the phone call, the fifth virtual summit between the two officials since Biden became president a year and a half ago, began at 8:33 a.m. (1233 GMT) local time and lasted more than two hours.
Beijing and Washington were already at loggerheads over trade. Because of Taiwan, the two world powers are now opposing each other. China considers the island one of its historic provinces, with a population of 24 million, which has yet to be reunited with the rest of the country.
Beijing is against any official contact between Taiwan and other states, and therefore against a possible visit by Nancy Pelosi, as opposed to any initiative that would give international legitimacy to the Taiwanese authorities.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said before the call that “tensions around China’s aggressive and coercive behavior in the Indo-Pacific” would be on the agenda. – a term used exclusively by the United States to designate a changing reality. Alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.
Although US officials frequently visit Taiwan, Beijing regards the visit of Ms Pelosi as a major stimulus, one of the most visited individuals in the US state.
Beijing warned on Wednesday that Washington “will face all the consequences” of a possible visit, which Ms Pelosi has not yet confirmed.
The US chief of staff, General Mark Milley, told reporters that if Nancy Pelosi sought “military support” she would “do what is necessary” to ensure the safe conduct of her affairs.
The tensions surrounding this trip are only part of the problem. US officials fear President Xi is considering the use of force to impose control over Taiwan.
Once considered impossible, an invasion, or any other form of military action, is being watched as closely as possible by observers.
Joe Biden’s conflicting statements on Taiwan – he said the US would defend the island in May, before the White House insisted that a policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ had not changed – did not help.
Although the US President prides itself on a close relationship with Mr. Xi, the pair have yet to see each other in person since he took office largely due to the COVID restrictions.
According to the White House, Mr Biden’s main objective was to establish “security measures” for the two superpowers, to avoid open conflict despite their differences and their geopolitical rivalry.
Mr Biden wanted to ‘make sure’ that the lines of communication with President Xi were open on all issues, whether it was issues we agreed on or issues that we had difficulty with important things, that he could always pick up the phone. and can talk openly to each other,” Kirby said.
Asked about Mr Biden possibly waiving some of the 25% tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on billions of dollars of Chinese goods, the spokesman said no decision had yet been made.
He said, “We believe (…) that the tariffs imposed by his predecessor were poorly designed. We believe they have increased costs for American households and small businesses as well as ranchers. ” “China’s Harmful Trade Practices”.
But “I don’t have a decision from the president to announce the tariffs. He’s working on it,” concluded John Kirby.
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