President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke for more than two hours on Thursday on a range of issues that included a candid exchange about Taiwan.
Chinese state media reported that Xi brought up Taiwan repeatedly during the call, telling Biden that the U.S. should abide by the One China policy and implement the Three Joint Communiqués — a set of diplomatic statements issued over four decades to guide, among other things, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
“Those who play with fire will get burned,” Xi was reported to have told Biden.
Biden emphasized that U.S. policy on Taiwan “has not changed,” meaning that while the administration does not support Taiwanese independence, Taiwan would continue to be an important trading partner for the U.S. This stance is in accordance with the United States’ longstanding adherence to the One China policy.
“The United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
A source of tension in the background of the call was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, a diplomatic trip that the White House is not happy about. Xi is also facing a sensitive time with the 20th Communist Party Congress coming up later this year. Any perceived cracks in the United States’ commitment to the One China policy could weaken his own influence.
Xi underscored the need for bilateral coordination on macroeconomic policies to keep global supply chains stable and to maintain food and energy security. The call also covered Covid-19 policies. Both presidents tasked their respective teams to continue following up on Thursday’s conversation, in particular to address climate change and health security.
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