The White House characterized U.S. President Joe Biden’s call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday (July 28) as “straight-forward” after China’s foreign ministry reported that Xi warned Biden against playing with fire over Taiwan,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 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, Jean-Pierre said.
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.