BEIJING — President Xi Jinping warned against interfering in China’s relations with Taiwan in a phone call with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, who gave no indication of progress on trade, technology or development. other irritants, including Beijing’s opposition to a possible visit by a senior US lawmaker to the island. which the continent claims as its own territory.
Xi also warned against splitting the world’s two largest economies, according to a Chinese government summary of Thursday’s unusually long three-hour call. Businessmen and economists warn that such a shift, driven by Chinese industrial policy and U.S. restrictions on tech exports, could hurt the global economy by slowing innovation and driving up costs.
Meanwhile, Xi and Biden are considering the possibility of meeting in person, according to a US official who declined to be further identified. Xi was invited to Indonesia in November for a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies, making it a potential venue for a face-to-face meeting.
The Chinese government has given no indication that Xi and Biden discussed possible plans by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to travel to Taiwan, which the ruling Communist Party says has not no right to conduct foreign relations. But Xi rejected “interference from outside forces” that could encourage Taiwan to try to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent.
The harsh language of Xi, who typically tries to appear above political dissent and makes blandly positive public comments, suggested Chinese leaders may believe Washington has failed to understand the seriousness of previous warnings about Taiwan.
“Resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday. “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”
Taiwan and China separated in 1949 following a civil war that ended in a communist victory on the mainland. They have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment. Both sides say they are one country but disagree on which government is entitled to national leadership.
A Defense Department spokesperson said ahead of Thursday’s call that Washington “must not arrange Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.” He said the armed wing of the ruling People’s Liberation Army would take “strong measures to thwart any outside interference”.
Xi called on the United States to “honor the one-China principle”, according to Zhao, referring to Beijing’s position that the mainland and Taiwan are one country. The United States, on the other hand, has a “one China policy” which says that Washington takes no position on the issue but wants to see it resolved peacefully.
“China’s opposition to US-Taiwan interactions is clear and consistent,” Zhao said.
A Foreign Ministry summary of the conversation quoted Biden as saying the United States does not support Taiwan independence.
On Friday, coverage of the conversation in China’s fully state-controlled media was limited to repeating government statements.
Pelosi has yet to confirm whether she will travel to Taiwan, but if she does, the California Democrat would be the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit since President Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Beijing criticized Gingrich for saying the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, but did nothing else in response to his three-hour visit to the island.
Since then, China’s stance on Taiwan has hardened as the mainland’s economy has become the second largest after the United States. The ruling party has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the development of fighter jets and other high-tech weapons, including ‘aircraft carrier’ missiles meant to prevent the US Navy from helping to defend the island .
The dispute over a possible Pelosi visit is more sensitive in Beijing in a year when Xi, who came to power in 2012, is expected to try to break with tradition and give himself a third five-year term as party leader.
Xi, who wants to be seen as restoring China’s legitimate historic role as a world leader, has promoted a more assertive overseas policy. The People’s Liberation Army has sent an increasing number of fighter jets and bombers flying near Taiwan in an attempt to intimidate its democratically elected government.
The United States has no official relations with Taiwan, but maintains extensive commercial ties and informal political relations. Washington is obligated by federal law to ensure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself.
Xi called for cooperation to reduce the risk of economic recession, coordinate macroeconomic policies, combat COVID-19 and “de-escalate regional hotspots”, according to the government statement.
He also warned against decoupling or separating the US and Chinese economies for strategic reasons.
Businessmen and industry analysts have warned that global industries could be split into separate markets with incompatible products due to China’s pressure on its companies to develop their own technological standards and US restrictions on Chinese access to technology that Washington considers a security risk. This could slow down innovation and increase costs.
“Attempts to uncouple or sever supply chains in defiance of underlying laws would not help stimulate the U.S. economy,” the statement said. “They would only make the global economy more vulnerable.”