Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will speak on Thursday, their first conversation in four months, according to a US official, amid renewed tension between Washington and Beijing over their territorial claims. China’s rights over Taiwan.
The planned talks between the two leaders – the fifth in a series of periodic checks – have been going on for weeks. But the possibility of a visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat and second in the presidential line of succession, has added new strain to the complicated relationship.
Beijing warned that it would take “strong measures” if Pelosi visited the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.
The US official declined to be identified prior to the public announcement. The schedule was first reported by Bloomberg.
Pelosi has not confirmed plans to visit Taiwan, but Biden last week told reporters that US military officials believe it is “not a good idea” for the speaker to visit the island at this time. . Biden’s comments come after the Financial Times reported last week that Pelosi had planned to visit Taiwan in August, a trip she had planned to make in April but was postponed later. when she tested positive for COVID-19.
The speaker declined to comment on whether she plans to visit Taiwan, citing security protocols for her travel. But she said Biden’s comments stemmed from the military’s “fear of being shot down, or something like that, by the Chinese”. She will be the highest-ranking US elected official to visit Taiwan since Republican Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997 when he served as Speaker of the House.
“It’s important that we show our support for Taiwan,” Pelosi said. “None of us have ever said that we want independence when it comes to Taiwan. It is Taiwan’s right to decide.”
Administration officials have privately emphasized to Pelosi that traveling to Taiwan could further complicate the fragile status quo.
Chinese officials did not force words, sending a message that Pelosi’s visit would be seen as a change in US policy and seen as a provocation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “If the US resolutely goes its own way, China will take strong measures to resolutely respond and counter it, and we Will do what was said.
The United States has a longstanding commitment to the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal and defense relations with Taipei. China has stepped up military provocations against Taiwan in recent years and there are concerns that it is trying to intimidate the island into accepting Beijing’s demands for reunification with the communist mainland. produce.
The talks between Biden and Xi may also include discussion of North Korea’s nuclear program, differences between Beijing and Washington over Russia’s war in Ukraine, and efforts by the Biden administration to restore the deal. Iran nuclear deal and the US administration’s review of tough tariffs imposed on China by the Trump administration.
“There are issues of tension in this relationship,” said John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman. “But there are also issues where we believe cooperation is not only possible but mandatory, such as on climate change, which affects us a lot.”
Long-simmering differences over Taiwan have come into the spotlight after Russia’s invasion and relentless efforts to annex parts of eastern Ukraine.
As the United States tries to assemble a global coalition to hit the Russian economy with heavy sanctions following the Ukraine invasion at the behest of Vladimir Putin, Biden warns allies – especially those in Indo-Pacific – that Beijing will closely monitor how democracies react as they see as next steps on Taiwan.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday said he was concerned that Beijing might be gleaning some “relevance” from the five-month war in Eastern Europe. But he thinks the timing has also led to careful consideration in Taipei.
“It’s not like many people ask ‘Did Taiwan learn a lesson from Ukraine?’ and you can bet they are,” Sullivan said during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum. “They are learning lessons about citizen mobilization and territorial defense. They are learning lessons about information warfare and how to set up an information space. And they’re learning lessons on how to prepare for a potential China-related situation, and they’re working quickly to address that.”
Taiwan was the central topic of Biden and Xi’s last call in March, about three weeks after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
China has repeatedly threatened to assert its claims to Taiwan by force, and has sent hundreds of sorties over Taiwan’s airspace since Biden took office 18 months ago. The United States has a legal obligation to ensure that self-governing island democracy can defend itself and take threats to it seriously.
The conversation also comes as Biden’s economic and national security aides close to finalizing their review of US tariff policy and preparing to make recommendations to the president.
The tariffs imposed under President Donald Trump apply a 25% tariff on billions of dollars of Chinese goods. The penalties are intended to reduce the US trade deficit and force China to adopt fairer measures.