Xi warns Biden ‘not to play with fire’

The Chinese president warned the US president not to “play with fire” as tensions rose over Taiwan, in a phone call of more than two hours.

“Those who play with fire will get burned. I hope the US side fully understands that,” Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as telling US President Joe Biden in a phone call on 28/02. 7.

“The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan issue is consistent. The steadfast will of more than 1.4 billion Chinese people is to resolutely defend China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. “, Xi added.

According to Xinhua, both leaders described the call as “frank and in-depth”.

The White House said the call began at 8:33 am (19:33 Hanoi time) and ended after two hours and 17 minutes. This is the fifth phone call between the US and China leaders since Mr. Biden took office in January 2021.

US President Joe Biden (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Photo: AP.

US President Joe Biden (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Image: AP.

The phone call took place amid bilateral tension over Taiwan and trade issues. The last time the US-Chinese leaders spoke by phone was on March 18, when Mr. Biden warned Mr. Xi not to support Russia in the special military operation in Ukraine.

Taiwan has always been a hot issue in US-China bilateral relations in recent years. China considers Taiwan a province awaiting reunification and has vowed to use force if necessary. The United States does not establish formal relations with Taiwan but is the main supplier of weapons to the island.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is said to be planning to visit Taiwan in August. She declined to discuss any travel plans, citing security reasons, when asked about the information.

If it happens, it will be the highest-level visit by a US official under President Biden to the island. The last time a US House of Representatives speaker visited Taiwan was when Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997.

China’s Foreign Ministry warned on July 19 that the US would bear “all consequences” if Ms. Pelosi’s visit took place.

The Chinese military also vowed to take countermeasures if Ms. Pelosi went to Taiwan, while the US military is said to be planning to increase the movement of forces and equipment in the Indian Ocean region – Pacific. Observers say that the approach of the two countries can easily lead to the risk of conflict.

Sources said that China’s military measures could include preventing Ms. Pelosi from landing on the island of Taiwan or sending fighter jets to close and obstruct the military plane carrying her to the island. The White House also appears to be assessing whether China is seriously considering military action or is just signaling to pressure Ms. Pelosi to cancel the visit.

Ms. Pelosi had planned to visit Taiwan in April, but the trip was postponed after she tested positive for nCoV. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the time criticized the trip as a “malicious provocation”.

Earlier this month, Wang went on to tell US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington should not send any signals in favor of “Taiwan independence”.

The Taiwan Strait and the island of the same name.  Graphics: CSIS.

The Taiwan Strait and the island of the same name. Graphics: CSIS.

Huyen Le (Theo AFP, SCMP)

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