Biden-Xi plans to meet, US official says, Xi warns Taiwan

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a phone call on Thursday. Pictured is their November 15, 2021 virtual reunion.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — President of the United States Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended a call on Thursday with the intention of holding a face-to-face meeting for the first time since Biden took office, a senior U.S. official said in a briefing.

However, Xi stuck to strong words on the Taiwan issue, while Biden said the US position had not changed, according to official readings from the US and Chinese governments.

The readings did not mention plans for an in-person meeting, but noted that both parties plan to maintain communication. The American official was brief reporters after the call.

“There was an exchange at the end about … a conversation about a face-to-face meeting being worked out between the teams,” the official said, according to a White House transcript. “From my point of view, there was a clear and affirmative program that was proposed and accepted.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The last conversation between the two leaders came during a tense period between their countries, especially in recent rhetoric around Taiwan. Beijing considers the democratically autonomous island to be part of its territory.

“The fact that the call took place is mildly positive and shows that the two leaders want to maintain a bottom despite the deterioration of bilateral relations,” Eurasia Group analysts said in a note. “Any future cessation of high-level dialogue between the United States and China would be a negative sign for global stability.”

Taiwanese soldiers on an armored vehicle during the National Day celebration in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2021. Before the start of the war in Ukraine, only 26.6 percent of Taiwanese thought it was likely that China could suddenly start a war with Taiwan, according to a poll by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation.  After Russia invaded Ukraine, the percentage rose to 38.6%.

Why tensions between China and Taiwan are rising

“Xi did not escalate threats from China, but seemed to indirectly warn that Pelosi’s trip could inflame Chinese nationalism,” the report said.

Beijing has warned of “strong and resolute action” if US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan this summer, as the Financial Times reported, citing sources.

don’t play with fire

Learn more about China from CNBC Pro

Biden said during Thursday’s call with Xi that US policy toward Taiwan had not changed, according to official readings from China and the White House.

Tensions between the US and China have escalated under the Trump administration, which has imposed tariffs on billions of US dollars worth of goods from China and banned US companies from selling supplies to certain companies Chinese technologies.

The Biden administration has called the bilateral relationship a strategic competition.

Areas of cooperation

There was no way the US would violate its own one China policy. Even a visit from Pelosi wouldn’t change that.

Scott Kennedy

Center for Strategic and International Studies

The call marked “a step forward in the possibility of discussing deeply sensitive issues in a working-class spirit [way]said Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and chair of Chinese business and economic administration at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“There was no way the United States would violate its own one China policy,” Kennedy said. “Even a visit from Pelosi wouldn’t change that.”

Both countries called the call “candid” and said it was made by the United States.

The Chinese reading noted that Biden requested the call. The White House said the call was part of “the Biden administration’s efforts to maintain and deepen the lines of communication between the United States and the [People’s Republic of China] and responsibly managing our differences and working together where our interests align.”

Leave a Comment