Xi Jinping announced that the US wants China to attack Taiwan

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According to people familiar with the matter, Chinese President Xi Jinping told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Washington was trying to incite Beijing to attack Taiwan.

One person said that the Chinese leader also sent warnings to domestic officials.

Xi gave the warning during a meeting with von der Leyen in April 2023 and was described by several people to the Financial Times. He said that America was trying to trick China into invading Taiwan, but he would not take the bait. Another person said he gave similar warnings to his officials.

These comments provide a deeper insight into Xi’s thinking on Taiwan – the thorniest issue in US-China relations.

Some Chinese scholars and retired military officers claim that Washington is trying to provoke Beijing by supplying weapons to Taiwan and promoting other measures aimed at drawing China into confrontation. military.

Speaking at the Asia Society in January, Cui Tiankai, China’s former ambassador to Washington, said China would “not fall into the trap that someone may be preparing for us,” referring to the United States.

Xi’s comments to von der Leyen were the first known instance of him making this statement to a foreign leader. Mr. Xi also said that conflict with the US would destroy many of China’s achievements and undermine his goal of achieving “great rejuvenation” by 2049.

“If Xi truly believes that the US is actively seeking conflict with China over Taiwan, then concerns that Xi has created a vacuum,” said Jude Blanchette, a China expert at CSIS, said. information or receiving poor advice from subordinates is true”. a thinking tank.

The revelation comes after rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait. China responded to Lai Ching-te’s inauguration as Taiwan’s new president in May with major military exercises around the island. Beijing has described Lai as a “dangerous separatist”.

Washington has an obligation to help Taiwan defend itself under the Taiwan Relations Act. But the Biden administration has long emphasized that it does not support Taiwanese independence and opposes unilateral changes to the status quo.

Chinese worries about US intentions have increased in recent years, while US concerns about China’s assertive military activity around Taiwan have also increased.

A Chinese scholar said Washington is “actively encouraging independence forces in Taiwan” and the US knows that if they cross the red line by declaring independence, China will be forced to take military action .

Blanchette said one possible explanation for Xi’s remarks is that some subordinates are trying to steer him away from more aggressive policies.

“Whatever the explanation for Mr. Xi’s comments, it is clear that the decision-making environment — and the information that feeds it — is being distorted, either by Mr. Xi’s subordinates or by his own autocratic behavior.”

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund, said the comments could be part of China’s efforts to pull Europe away from the US on the Taiwan issue, but it could also be Mr. into that.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not comment on Xi’s remarks, but said the US was selling weapons to Taiwan and supporting “independent separatist forces”.

A spokeswoman for Von der Leyen said she did not disclose details of the private meetings. The White House did not comment.

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in Brussels

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