- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2022

President Biden underscored his opposition to China’s efforts to “undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” in a call spanning more than two hours Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two leaders, who last spoke in March just weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reconvened for their fifth call since Mr. Biden took office as tensions between the two countries edge toward a tipping point.

“The two presidents discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship and other regional and global issues and tasked their teams to continue following up on today’s conversation, in particular, to address climate change and health security,” according to the White House’s readout.

“On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said.

Tensions between the two countries have spiked in recent days in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reported intent to visit Taiwan during Congress’ upcoming August recess.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, has yet to confirm her plans to travel to Taiwan since it was first reported by the Financial Times last week.

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The White House has refrained from commenting on the trip, noting that the speaker, who is second in the constitutional line to succeed the president behind only the vice president, makes her own travel decisions.

Beijing has warned that the trip, which would be the first by a sitting House speaker in over two decades, would cause serious harm to U.S.-China relations.

“If the U.S. insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will surely be met with forceful responses,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China‘s Foreign Ministry, told reporters earlier this week. “All ensuing consequences shall be borne by the U.S.”

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of China and thus its own territory. The government sitting in Taipei, which formally calls itself the Republic of China, is denounced as an illegitimate renegade.

World leaders have become increasingly concerned that China will use military force to retake the island that lies just over 100 miles off of the mainland.

According to Beijing’s readout of the call, Mr. Xi told Mr. Biden that China’s position on “the Taiwan question” remains unchanged.

“Resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Mr. Xi reportedly told the American president.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Mr. Xi warned during the call, according to Beijing. “It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.”

The administration has continued to underscore the U.S. commitment to the “One China” policy, a diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing as the sole government of all “China,” a term which includes the island of Taiwan.

But the U.S. policy still allows informal ties and non-diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Both leaders underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication going forward.

— This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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