- Xi Jinping warned Biden about Taiwan during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
- “Such moves are extremely dangerous, like playing with fire,” Xi said, warning against supporting Taiwan’s independence.
- “Whoever plays with fire will be burned,” he added.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned President Joe Biden that his administration is “playing with fire” when it comes to Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province. Xi called on the United States to encourage Taiwanese independence, calling it “dangerous.”
“Such movements are extremely dangerous, like playing with fire,” Xi said during a virtual meeting with Biden on Monday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “Whoever plays with fire will be burned,” he added.
“We have patience and will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the utmost sincerity and effort,” Xi said. “That said, if the separatist forces of ‘Taiwan’s independence’ provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line, we will be forced to take resolute action.”
Biden “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said in a statement.
The United States has not supported calls for Taiwanese independence and has had a long-standing policy of letting it be unclear how it would react if China were to try to conquer the democratically ruled island of 24 million by force. The bite recently sent mixed signals about this posture.
Tensions between the United States and China have reached historic heights in recent years, and Taiwan remains the core of the countless disagreements between the two great powers.
In 1979, the United States formally established ties with the Chinese Communist government and severed official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. But Washington has continued to maintain unofficial but strong ties with Taiwan, and the United States is its largest arms supplier. Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the United States is required to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons.
“The United States will make such defense articles and defense services available to Taiwan in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain adequate self-defense capabilities,” the law states.
China has repeatedly pressured the United States to stop selling arms to Taiwan and warned that it could spur a broader conflict; The United States has in recent years supplied advanced weapons such as F-16 fighter jets, main tanks and Harpoon anti-ship missiles that are useful in averting an invasion of the world’s largest fleet. Meanwhile, the Chinese military under Xi’s leadership has become more and more aggressive towards Taiwan – it sent a series of large waves of military aircraft into the island’s air defense zone last month.
Biden has also issued recent statements that were in conflict with the U.S. government’s long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan. In short, the United States has long been consciously vigilant about whether it would come to Taiwan’s defense if attacked. But Biden last month appeared to be committing the United States to Taiwan’s defense, prompting the White House to go back on his statements, noting that there had been no change in policy.
The president, whose long political career has in many ways been defined by a focus on foreign policy, wrote a statement in 2001 criticizing then-President George W. Bush for saying the United States would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan.
“Words mean something,” Biden wrote at the time. “There is a huge difference between reserving the right to use force and committing ourselves in advance to defending Taiwan. The president should not relinquish to Taiwan, let alone to China, the ability to automatically pull us into a war. across the Taiwan Strait. “
In short, Biden criticized Bush for giving conflicting signals about Taiwan as president, only to do the same when he was in the White House.
Top experts in China have stressed the importance of clear messages from the United States about Taiwan.
“It is important that the United States has a clear policy and consistent messages to China, Taiwan and the rest of the world on this issue, because it is probably the only issue that could lead to a military conflict between the United States and China,” Bonnie said. Glasses. the director of the Asia program of the German Marshall Fund in the United States, told Insider recently.
Matthew Funaiole, a senior fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stressed that a “confused or confused US approach to Taiwan weakens the deterrent.”
“The United States has a long-standing policy of strategic ambiguity as to whether it would intervene if China attacked Taiwan. That policy has served the United States well in the past and will continue to serve American interests in the future. Washington, however, needs to be consistent, “Funaiole added.
Although Xi took a sharp tone on the issue of Taiwan, the Chinese leader and Biden were relatively cordial in their largely fruitless virtual meeting on Tuesday. Xi referred to Biden as an “old friend”, adding: “China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation,” the Associated Press reported.
Biden, who has made the challenge of China’s growing global influence a top priority, opened the meeting by saying: “As I have said before, it seems to me that our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that competition between our countries does not enter into conflict, whether intentional or unintentional. “
“Just simple, straightforward competition,” he added.
There were no major breakthroughs or announcements as a result of the meeting.