Biden-Xi interview amid tensions over Taiwan and trade

Biden-Xi interview amid tensions over Taiwan and trade


WASHINGTON | US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed rising tensions between their two countries over the phone for more than two hours on Thursday, particularly over Taiwan and their trade disputes. 

< p>“The conversation between President Biden and President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China ended at 10:50 a.m.,” the White House said in a statement. The phone call had started 2 hours and 17 minutes earlier, at 8:33 a.m. local time.

This is the fifth virtual summit between the two officials since Mr. Biden became president a year ago and a half, but the mutual distrust between China and the United States is becoming increasingly difficult to hide.

Beijing and Washington are already at odds over trade. The two world powers now oppose each other because of Taiwan.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said before the call that “tensions around China's aggressive and coercive behavior in the Indo-Pacific” would be on the agenda. day.

Latest cause of friction: a possible trip by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan.

China believes that the island is the one of its historic provinces that it has not yet managed to reunite with the rest of the country.

Opposed to any initiative that would give the Taiwanese authorities international legitimacy, it is against any official contact between Taiwan and other states.

Although American officials visit Taiwan frequently, Beijing considers that A trip by Mrs. Pelosi, one of the highest figures in the American state, would be a major provocation.

Washington will have to “assume all the consequences” of this potential visit, which Ms. Pelosi has not yet confirmed, Beijing warned on Wednesday.

General Mark Milley, the US Chief of Staff, has told the press that if Nancy Pelosi requested “military support” then he would “do what is necessary to ensure the safe conduct” of his affairs.


The tensions surrounding this trip are only part of the problem. US officials fear President Xi is considering the use of force to impose control on Taiwan.

Once considered unlikely, an invasion, or other form of action military, is increasingly seen by observers as possible.

Joe Biden's contradictory statements on Taiwan — he said in May that the United States would defend the island, before the House -Blanche insists that the policy of “strategic ambiguity” had not changed — did not help.

Although the US president prides himself on a close relationship with Mr. Xi, the two men have yet to see each other in person since he took office, largely due to Covid restrictions. p>

According to the White House, Mr Biden's main objective was to establish “safeguards” for the two superpowers, in order to avoid open conflict despite their differences and their geopolitical rivalry .

Mr Biden wanted to “ensure” that “the lines of communication with President Xi on all issues are open, whether they are issues on which we agree or issues on which we have difficulty. important things, that they can always pick up the phone and talk to each other frankly,” Mr. Kirby said.

Asked about whether Mr. Biden would waive some of the 25% tariffs imposed on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods by ex-President Donald Trump, the spokesman said a decision had still not been made.

“We believe (…) that the customs tariffs put in place by his predecessor were badly designed. We believe they have increased costs for American families and small businesses, as well as ranchers,” he said, also referring to “China's harmful trade practices.”

But “I have no decision to announce regarding tariffs from the President. He is working on it,” concluded John Kirby.