World: Biden-Xi make plans to meet in person, U.S. official says — and China's leader has strong words on Taiwan

Taiwan holds drills amid Pelosi visit concern, China tension

  Taiwan holds drills amid Pelosi visit concern, China tension BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan’s capital staged air raid drills Monday and its military mobilized for routine defense exercises, coinciding with concerns over a forceful Chinese response to a possible visit to the island by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. While there was no direct link between China’s renewed threats and Taiwan’s defensive moves, they underscore the possibility of a renewed crisis in the Taiwan Strait, considered a potential hotspot for conflict that could envelop the entire region.

  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended a call Thursday with plans to arrange their first in-person meeting since Biden took office, a senior U.S. official said during a briefing.
  • Xi stuck to strong words on the Taiwan issue, while Biden said the U.S. position has not changed, according to official readouts from the U.S. and Chinese governments.
  • The two leaders' latest conversation came at a tense period between their countries, particularly over recent rhetoric around Taiwan.
  • "That the call happened is a mild positive and shows both leaders want to maintain a floor under deteriorating bilateral ties," Eurasia Group analysts said in a note.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone call Thursday. Pictured here is their virtual meeting on Nov. 15, 2021. © Provided by CNBC U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone call Thursday. Pictured here is their virtual meeting on Nov. 15, 2021.

BEIJING — U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended a call Thursday with plans to arrange a face-to-face meeting for the first time since Biden took office, a senior U.S. official said during a briefing.

Xi, Biden to speak as possible Pelosi Taiwan visit looms

  Xi, Biden to speak as possible Pelosi Taiwan visit looms BEIJING (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the first time in four months, with a wide range of bilateral and international issues on the table. But a potential visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is looming over the conversation set for Thursday, with China warning of a severe response if she travels to the self-governing island democracy Beijing claims as its own territory.

However, Xi stuck to strong words on the Taiwan issue, while Biden said the U.S. position has not changed, according to official readouts from the U.S. and Chinese governments.

The readouts did not mention plans for an in-person meeting, but noted both sides plan to maintain communication. The U.S. official was briefing 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 perspective, there was very much a clear, affirmative agenda that was put forward and agreed to."

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two leaders' latest conversation came during a tense period between their countries, particularly over recent rhetoric around Taiwan. Beijing considers the democratically self-ruled island as part of its territory.

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"That the call happened is a mild positive and shows both leaders want to maintain a floor under deteriorating bilateral ties," Eurasia Group analysts said in a note. "Any future cessation of top-level US-China dialogue would be a negative sign for global stability."

"Xi did not escalate China's threats but he did appear to warn indirectly that Pelosi's trip could inflame Chinese nationalism," the report said.

Beijing has warned "strong and resolute measures" if Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan this summer, as the Financial Times has reported, citing sources.

Don't play with fire

During Thursday's call, China's leader maintained a firm line on the consequences of support for Taiwan's independence.

"Resolutely safeguarding China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people," Xi said during the call, according to an official English-language release from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

China’s Xi Jinping Warns President Joe Biden Against ‘Playing With Fire’ Over Taiwan

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"Those who play with fire will perish by it," the statement cited Xi as saying, in a section about his comments on China's position on Taiwan. "It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this."

The U.S. "one China policy" of the last few decades has recognized Beijing as the sole legal government of China. The U.S. also maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan, with a policy of making sure the island has the resources to defend itself.

Biden said during Thursday's call with Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed, according to official readouts from China and the White House.

Tensions between the U.S. and China escalated during the Trump administration, which put tariffs on billions of U.S. dollars' worth of goods from China and banned U.S. businesses from selling supplies to some Chinese tech companies.

Biden's administration has cast the bilateral relationship as one of strategic competition.

Areas of cooperation

The call — which lasted about 2 hours and 20 minutes — discussed areas of potential cooperation such as climate change and health security, the U.S. official said.

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The Chinese readout noted Xi emphasized the need for both countries to communicate on "coordinating macroeconomic policies," stabilizing supply chains and protecting the security of global energy and food.

Both leaders, who last spoke in March, also discussed the Russia-Ukraine war, the U.S. and Chinese governments said. Beijing has refused to call Moscow's attack on Ukraine an invasion.

The call marked "a step forward in being able to discuss deeply sensitive matters in a workman-like [way]," said Scott Kennedy, senior advisor and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"There was never any chance the U.S. would violate its own one-China policy," Kennedy said. "Even a visit by Pelosi wouldn't change that."

The two countries described the call as "candid" and said it was initiated by the U.S.

The Chinese readout noted Biden requested the call. The White House said the call was part of the Biden administration's "efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the [People's Republic of China] and responsibly manage our differences and work together where our interests align."

Joe Biden To Make Most Important Call of Presidency to China's Xi Jinping .
The leaders of the two major powers will talk over existing frictions as well as new uncertainties thrown up by Nancy Pelosi's travel plans.The competitive nature of the contemporary relationship has left many fearing a mishap in Asia, one that could spark a wider conflict with global consequences. Crisis management between the two militaries therefore will be high on the agenda for the talks, their fifth in the last 18 months and the latest since March.

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