Biden and Xi discuss Taiwan, Pelosi, human rights and origins of Covid
The White House characterized U.S. President Joe Biden's call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday as "straight-forward" after China's foreign ministry reported that Xi warned Biden against playing with fire over Taiwan.
The warning is highlighting Beijing's concerns about a possible visit to the Chinese-claimed island by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Biden told Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the White House said, referring to the 100-mile-wide body of water separating the island from the mainland.
Biden had stressed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication on Taiwan and the two also discussed areas of cooperation, including climate change, health security and counter-narcotics.
Beijing has issued escalating warnings about repercussions should Pelosi - a Democrat like Biden - visit Taiwan, which says it is facing increasing Chinese military and economic threats. A visit by the House speaker would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for the island, and some analysts worry such a move at a time of fraught ties could spur a major crisis and even unintended clashes. China has given few clues to specific responses it might make if Pelosi, a long-time critic of Beijing, particularly on human rights issues, makes the trip, which she has yet to confirm.
Washington follows a "one-China policy" that recognizes Beijing, not Taipei, diplomatically. But it is obliged by U.S. law to provide the democratically governed island with the means to defend itself, and pressure has mounted in Congress for more explicit support.
The presidents' call lasted over two hours. U.S. officials had said it would have a broad agenda, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which China has yet to condemn.
Meanwhile, China state media reported that Xi and Biden had a candid communication and exchange on China-U.S. relations and issues of mutual interest.
Xi pointed out that in the world today, the trends of turbulence and transformation are evolving, and deficits in development and security are looming large.
Faced with a world of change and disorder, the international community and the people around the world expect China and the U.S. to take the lead in upholding world peace and security and in promoting global development and prosperity, he said, noting that this is the responsibility of China and the U.S. as two major countries.
Xi underscored that to approach and define China-U.S. relations in terms of strategic competition and view China as the primary rival and the most serious long-term challenge would be misperceiving China-U.S. relations and misreading China's development and would mislead the people of the two countries and the international community.
The two sides need to maintain communication at all levels and make good use of existing channels to promote bilateral cooperation. Xi said.
Recognizing the many challenges facing the global economy, Xi stressed the need for China and the U.S. to maintain communication on such important issues as coordinating macroeconomic policies, keeping global industrial and supply chains stable, and protecting global energy and food security.
Attempts at decoupling or severing supply chains in defiance of underlying laws would not help boost the U.S. economy, Xi said, adding that they would only make the world economy more vulnerable.
He said that the two sides need to work for deescalation of regional hotspots, help rid the world of COVID-19 as early as possible, reduce the risk of stagflation and recession, and uphold the international system centring on the UN and the international order underpinned by international law.
Xi elaborated on China's principled position on the Taiwan question.
He highlighted that the historical ins and outs of the Taiwan question are crystal clear, and so are the fact and status quo that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and same China.
Noting that the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques embody the political commitments made by the two sides, and the one-China principle is the political foundation for China-U.S. relations, Xi stressed that China firmly opposes separatist moves toward "Taiwan independence" and interference by external forces, and never allows any room for "Taiwan independence" forces in whatever form.
The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan question is consistent, and resolutely safeguarding China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people, Xi said, adding that the public opinion cannot be defied, and those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this, Xi said.
He stressed that the U.S. should honour the one-China principle and implement the three joint communiques both in word and in deed.
Biden said that the world is at a critical moment, and U.S.-China cooperation benefits not only the two peoples but also people of all countries.
He said that the U.S. hopes to keep an open line of communication with China to enhance mutual understanding and avoid misperception and miscalculation, and will work with China where the interests of the two countries align and, at the same time, properly manage differences.
He reiterated that the one-China policy of the U.S. has not changed and will not change and that the U.S. does not support "Taiwan independence".
The two presidents exchanged views on issues including the Ukraine crisis. President Xi reiterated China's principled position.
Both presidents viewed their call as candid and in-depth. They agreed to stay in touch and instructed the two teams to keep up communication and cooperation.