A highly anticipated virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping has begun as tensions are high between the two countries, especially over the status of Taiwan, which is a self-ruling democracy claimed by Beijing.
Speaking through a translator, Biden told Xi…
“As I’ve said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure the competition between our two countries does not veer into conflict, either intended or unintended. Just simply straightforward competition… It seems to me we have to establish some common sense guardrails, to be clear and honest where we disagree and work together where our interests intersect.”
Through a translator, Xi told Biden that while the video conference was not as good as a face-to-face meeting, he said “I’m very happy to see my old friend.”
Prior to the summit, senior diplomats from both China and the US exchanged severe warnings over the alarming subject of Taiwan.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concerns about Beijing’s “military, diplomatic, and economic pressure” on Taiwan during a phone discussion with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday to discuss summit preparations.
Taiwan’s ambassador to China, Wang Yi, has warned of the dangers of the US moves that appear to encourage “Taiwan independence”. The US transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but Congress passed legislation requiring the US to give Taiwan weapons for self-defense.
The US administration is cautious not to reveal that it recognizes Taiwan, but it has broad, bipartisan support in Congress, with a delegation of lawmakers visiting the island this month, which has enraged Beijing.
“Any collaboration with and support for ‘Taiwan independence’ forces threatens peace across the Taiwan Strait and would only backfire in the end,” Wang told Blinken, according to a readout of the call issued by China on Saturday.
China has stepped up military activity near Taiwan in recent years, with a record number of planes intruding into its airspace in October. Washington has repeatedly shown support for Taiwan in the face of what it describes as Chinese aggression.
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