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 records 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.”
“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.
During Thursday’s call, the Chinese leader maintained a firm line on the consequences of supporting Taiwan independence.
“Resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xi said during the call, according to an official statement in English from the Chinese ministry. Foreign Affairs.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” the statement quoted Xi as saying, in a section about his comments on China’s stance on Taiwan. “We hope that the United States will be lucid about this.”
The “One China Policy” of the United States decades has recognized Beijing as the sole legal government of China. The United States also maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan, with a policy of ensuring the island has the resources to defend itself.
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.
The call – which lasted about 2 hours and 20 minutes – focused on potential areas of cooperation such as climate change and health security, the US official said.
The Chinese reading noted that Xi stressed the need for the two countries to communicate on “macroeconomic policy coordination”, stabilizing supply chains and safeguarding global energy and food security.
The two leaders, who last spoke in March, also discussed the Russian-Ukrainian war, the US and Chinese governments said. Beijing has refused to call Moscow’s attack on Ukraine an invasion.
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 managing our differences responsibly and working together where our interests align.”