In a phone call from Xi Jinping to Joe Biden, China threatens Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden had a “frank and detailed” phone conversation for more than two hours, Chinese state media reported. Chinese President Xi has warned the United States not to “play with fire” in Taiwan. The background is the announcement of a possible (unconfirmed) visit by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, to the Chinese-claimed island of Taiwan.
“Those who play with fire will only get burned,” Xi was quoted by the official Chinese media as telling Biden: “We hope that the US side will see and understand this clearly.” According to Chinese state media, Xi told Biden that the United States should adhere to the “one China principle.” China insists on the non-interference of outside forces and clearly opposes Taiwan’s independence efforts from China.
Beijing has warned of the consequences of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. It would be a dramatic and unprecedented display of American support for the island.
The White House confirmed the call, which marks the fifth virtual summit between the two leaders since Biden took office. “It is about keeping communication with the Chinese president open. It is one of the most important bilateral relationships we have, not only in this region but around the world,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told the media before the call.
Planned visit to Nancy Pelosi
Beijing and Washington are already at odds over international trade. Now the two world powers are fighting over Taiwan. China considers the island, with a population of 24 million, a historic Chinese province that wants union with the mainland.
Therefore, China opposes any initiative that might give Taiwan international legitimacy. Therefore, Beijing opposes any official communication from Taiwan and other countries, and therefore opposes a possible visit by Nancy Pelosi.
Although US officials travel to Taiwan frequently, Beijing believes that a visit by Nancy Pelosi, one of the country’s leading political figures, would constitute a provocation. Beijing warned on Wednesday that Washington would have to “bear all the consequences” of such a visit.
US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley told the media that if Nancy Pelosi requests “military assistance, the military will do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety” of its operations.
“Keep Communication Open”
The tensions surrounding this trip are only part of the problem. US officials fear that President Xi is considering using force to assert control over Taiwan. An invasion or other military action was considered unlikely, but observers increasingly say it is a possibility.
According to the White House, Biden’s main goal was to create “guard rails” for the two superpowers to avoid open conflict, despite their differences and geopolitical rivalries. Biden wants to “ensure” that the “lines of communication with President Xi are open to all questions.”
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