WASHINGTON – Tensions over Taiwan, Russia’s war in Ukraine and clashes over the economy dominated Thursday’s call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The planned call between the leaders – their first in more than four months – the U.S A competitive edge on China and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi considers a visit to Taiwan.
The call, which reflected a long and rambling agenda, lasted more than two hours, according to the White House.
- Charming: Biden and Xi began their call at 8:33 a.m., the White House said.
- Last Call: They last spoke on March 18 and were able to see each other in person at the G-20 summit in Indonesia in November.
- Top US Concerns: White House national security coordinator John Kirby said Wednesday that “tensions over Taiwan” would be a topic of discussion. Taiwan is a self-governing island that China considers part of its territory.
- Biden Mum: Biden declined to take questions about the call from reporters at an economic event Thursday afternoon.
- White House Readout: The White House released a brief statement on the call saying the leaders “discussed a variety of issues”, including climate change and health security.
- What the Chinese said: The Chinese government was the first of the two nations to read the call between the leaders, saying in a statement that Xi had discouraged Biden from focusing on the rivalry between the nations.
- Competition Law: One area of disagreement was the computer chips bill that Congress was close to passing on Thursday. He wants to reduce US manufacturing dependence on China, especially for semiconductors.
- Differences from Taiwan: In its statement, China indicated that Taiwan was an important topic of discussion during the call, with Xi reiterating the nation’s firm opposition to Taiwan independence.
- No change in policy: The White House suggested that Biden warned Xi against taking any action that would upset the status quo.
What are they saying?
- Xi spoke with Biden at the US president’s request, the Chinese readout said, describing it as a “frank communication and exchange on China-US relations” and topics of mutual interest.
- Legislation is nearing completion in Congress, according to China, aimed at increasing US competition with China.
- “Efforts to isolate or break supply chains in disregard of underlying laws will not help boost the US economy. They will only make the world economy more vulnerable,” China’s statement said.
- The harshest rhetoric was reserved for Taiwan, with the Chinese declaring that “public opinion cannot be ignored” on the issue and saying, “those who play with fire will be destroyed by it.”
- “Hope the US will keep a clear eye on this. The US should respect the one-China principle and implement the three joint communiques in word and practice,” the statement said. The US has long tried to navigate an ambiguous middle ground aimed at supporting Taiwan without provoking China.
- The White House said Biden stressed “United States policy has not changed” on Taiwan and that the US “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
- Kirby said Wednesday that “outside of Taiwan, China’s aggressive and coercive behavior in the Indo-Pacific; strained economic ties; Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine” will be part of the discussion.
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