‘Don’t play with fire’ – China’s leader Xi Jinping warns Joe Biden over Taiwan interference


'Don't play with fire' - China's leader Xi Jinping warns Joe Biden over Taiwan interference

The US and Chinese leaders have warned each other over Taiwan during a phone call that lasted more than two hours on Thursday, July 28.

US President, Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the US strongly opposed any unilateral moves by the Chinese military to change the status of the island.

Biden also added that US policy on Taiwan had not changed.

A read out by Beijing said Xi had told Biden to abide by the one-China principle, warning him that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt”.

During Thursday’s phone call, Biden and Xi also discussed arranging a possible face-to-face meeting, a senior Biden administration official said, describing the bilateral as “direct” and “honest”.

In a brief summary, the White House said it was part of efforts to “responsibly manage differences” and work together where “interests align”.

In a much longer read out of the call, Beijing said many of their interests did align. But it blamed the US for the deteriorating relationship, criticising the Biden administration’s view of China as a “primary rival” and Washington’s “most serious long-term challenge.”

When Biden was US vice-president he hosted Xi during a visit to the US by the Chinese leader in 2015, but they have not met in person during Mr Biden’s presidency.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that must become a part of the country – and has not ruled out the possible use of military force to achieve this.

Under the one-China policy, Washington does not recognize Taipei diplomatically. But the US does sell weapons to the democratically self-governed island so that it can defend itself.

Tensions over the issue have increased ahead of a rumoured plan for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan.

The state department says Pelosi has not announced any travel, but China has warned of “serious consequences” if she were to proceed with such a visit including the use of military force.

Last week, Biden told reporters “the military thinks it’s not a good idea”, but his White House has called Chinese rhetoric against any such trip “clearly unhelpful and not necessary”.

Pelosi, who is next in line to the presidency after the vice-president, would be the highest-ranking US politician to travel to Taiwan since 1997.

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