US and Chinese Presidents trade warnings over Taiwan and its independence

Image of President Xi Jinping. Credit: Lev Radin and President Xi Jinping - Image 360b Shutterstock

The US and Chinese presidents trade warnings over Taiwan in a phone call that last more than two hours, with President Joe Biden telling Xi Jinping that the US strongly opposes any unilateral moves to change the island’s status.

Speaking by videophone on July 28, according to the BBC Biden said that US policy on Taiwan had not changed. In response Xi said the US needs to abide by the one-China principle, warning him that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt.”

At the heart of the rising tensions is a rumour that the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was planning to visit Taiwan, however, the state department denied there were any such plans.

Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency after the vice-president, would be the highest-ranking official to travel to Taiwan since 1997 should the rumoured visit go ahead.

Mr Biden had said last week that: “the military thinks it’s not a good idea.” White House staff had called Chinese warnings “clearly unhelpful and not necessary.”

Biden, who described the video call as direct and honest, has met Xi before and did apparently propose another face-to-face meeting. The two met back in 2015 when Biden hosted Xi on his visit to the US.

Taiwan is not officially recognised by the US but it is opposed to any attempt by China to take the country back by force. But China disagrees saying that it is a renegade province that needs to once again be part of China.

It is understood that the two leaders discussed many other issues of joint interest, including climate change and health security. What was not discussed is the lifting of tariffs imposed by Former President Donald Trump, which some in the White House believe could help to reduce the inflation rate in the US.

According to the BBC, analysts believe that both countries wish to avoid any conflict but neither has shown any signs of willingness to tone down the rhetoric.  

A brief summary issued by the White House said that the US wants to “responsibly manage differences” and work together where “interests align”, however, Beijing said that whilst some interests aligned it blamed the US for the rising tensions. Beijing in their statement said Taiwan was Washington’s “most serious long-term challenge.”

The increasing tensions between the US and Chinese Presidents over Taiwan are of concern to many, especially in light of the war in Ukraine. But whilst these have risen significantly the two are still talking and that can only be a good sign.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at