The top diplomats from China and the US have exchanged stern warnings over the flashpoint issue of Taiwan, ahead of today’s hotly awaited summit between their leaders.
The virtual meeting of US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) comes against a backdrop of rising tensions — in part over Taiwan.
In a telephone call on Friday with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) to discuss preparations for the summit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns about Beijing’s “military, diplomatic and economic pressure” on Taiwan.
The US Department of State said in a statement that Blinken “emphasized longstanding US interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” in the call with Wang.
Blinken “expressed concern regarding the People’s Republic of China’s continued military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan,” and he “urged Beijing to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve cross-Strait issues peacefully and in a manner consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” the statement read.
Wang warned of the dangers of US actions that might seem supportive of “Taiwan independence.”
“Any connivance of and support for the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces undermines peace across the Taiwan Strait and would only boomerang in the end,” Wang told Blinken, according to a readout of the call released by China yesterday.
China has ramped up military activities near Taiwan in the past few years, with a record number of planes intruding into the nation’s air defense identification zone early last month.
Washington has repeatedly signaled its support for Taiwan in the face of what it has described as Chinese aggression.
Biden has largely kept the tougher approach on Beijing of his predecessor, former US president Donald Trump, with both administrations seeing a rising China as the top challenge of the 21st century.
While the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases last week unveiled a surprise agreement to work together on climate change, Washington and Beijing have indicated that they would not give ground on flashpoint issues.
US officials have framed today’s summit as an opportunity to “responsibly manage competition,” while trying to cooperate in areas where the two align.
Xi last week warned against the return of Cold War-era tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
Biden and Xi have talked by telephone twice since the veteran Democrat moved into the White House. The pair also met extensively when Biden was former US president Barack Obama’s vice president and Xi was vice president to former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Biden had hoped to meet Xi at a recent G20 summit in Rome, but the Chinese leader has not traveled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and instead, agreed to hold virtual talks by the end of the year.
Additional reporting by CNA
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