Biden looks to ease tensions in Taiwan during phone call with China – Reuters

WASHINGTON, July 28 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their fifth call as leaders on Thursday, as concerns grow over a possible visit to Taiwan demanded by China from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

White House officials said the long-planned call, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), would have a broad agenda, including a discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which China has yet to condemn.

In essence, US officials see the exchange as another opportunity to manage competition between the world’s two largest economies, whose relations are increasingly affected by tensions over democratically governed Taiwan, which Xi has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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Beijing has issued mounting warnings of repercussions for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, a move that would be a dramatic, if unprecedented, display of US support for the island, which it says faces growing Chinese military and economic threats.

Washington has no official relations with Taiwan and follows a “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing and not Taipei diplomatically. But it is obligated by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself, and pressure has grown in Congress for more visible support.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.

One of the people briefed on the planning for the call said the Biden administration believes that leader-to-leader engagement is the best way to reduce tensions over Taiwan.

Some analysts believe Xi is interested in avoiding a tense confrontation with the United States as he seeks an unprecedented third term in office at China’s ruling Communist Party congress, expected in October or November.

Biden also wants to discuss climate issues and economic competition, the person briefing said, as well as the idea of ​​capping the price of Russian oil to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine, an issue Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised with her Chinese counterparts earlier. July. Read more

The Biden administration is debating whether to raise some tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to mitigate rising inflation, but US officials said the decision was unexpected ahead of the call. Read more

When Biden last spoke to Xi in March, he warned of “consequences” if Beijing provided material support for Russia’s war, and the US government believes that red line has not been crossed in the months since.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to confirm the call or give him details when asked about it during a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

“The heads of state of China and the United States are maintaining contacts using various means,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

“China will announce information on this in due course,” he said.

Toxic links

The White House reiterated that the “one China” policy has not changed despite speculation about Pelosi’s possible visit, which the spokesperson has not yet confirmed.

The last time the speaker of the US House of Representatives visited Taiwan was in 1997, and as an equal branch of government, the US executive has little control over travel within Congress.

China has grown militarily and economically powerful since then, and some analysts fear that such a visit at a time of fraught relations could lead to a crisis across the 100-mile (160 kilometer) wide waterway separating China and Taiwan.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund in the United States, said.

She said Biden and Xi need to focus their advocacy on de-escalation, including potential mechanisms to reduce the risk of mishaps.

Kirby said the administration is in touch with Pelosi’s office to make sure it has “all the context” it needs to make decisions about her travel.

China has offered little clue as to what specific responses it might take if Pelosi, a longtime critic of China, especially on human rights issues, goes to Taiwan.

Raising the Taiwan issue could serve as a domestic distraction from the slowing Chinese economy, said Martin Chorzimba, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, but “any reaction strong enough to impose US sanctions will do serious damage to China and the world economy.” Read more

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Additional reporting by Michael Martina, Trevor Honeycutt, David Bronstrom and Garrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing. Editing by Heather Timmons, Richard Boleyn, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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