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President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held “candid” telephone talks on Thursday, with Xi warning the US chief not to “play with fire” on Taiwan, in accordance to Chinese state media.

The digital summit lasting over two hours befell as Beijing and Washington more and more threat open battle over the self-ruling island, which China considers a part of its territory.

“Those who play with fire will eventually get burned,” Xi was quoted as telling Biden in reference to Taiwan, in accordance to the state-run Xinhua information company — utilizing the identical language he had employed once they spoke final November.

“I hope the US side fully understand that,” Xi informed Biden.

“The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan issue is consistent,'” Xi was quoted as saying. “It is the firm will of the over 1.4 billion Chinese people to firmly safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

While this was Biden’s fifth speak with Xi since changing into president a 12 months and a half in the past, it is getting exhausting to masks deepening distrust between the 2 international locations amid a commerce conflict and tensions over Taiwan.

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The newest flashpoint is a attainable journey by Biden ally and speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to the island, which has its personal distinct democratic authorities.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had mentioned “tensions over China’s aggressive, coercive behavior in the Indo-Pacific” could be excessive on the agenda — utilizing the US administration’s time period for the Asia-Pacific area.

Although US officers regularly go to Taiwan, separated by a slim strip of water from the Chinese mainland, Beijing considers a Pelosi journey as a significant provocation. She’s second in line to the US presidency and given her place might journey with navy transport.

Washington will “bear the consequences” if the journey, which Pelosi has but to affirm, goes forward, China warned Wednesday.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the US joint chiefs of workers, informed reporters that if Pelosi asks “for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe, safe conduct of their business.”

And the dispute round Pelosi is the tip of an iceberg, with US officers fearing that Xi is mulling use of pressure to impose management over democratic Taiwan.

Once thought of unlikely, an invasion, or lesser type of navy motion, is more and more seen by China watchers as attainable — even perhaps timed to increase Xi’s status when he strikes later this 12 months into a 3rd time period.

Biden’s contradictory feedback on whether or not the United States would defend Taiwan — he mentioned in May that it could, earlier than the White House insisted there was no change within the hands-off “strategic ambiguity” coverage — have not helped the tension.

No face-to-face

Biden prides himself on a detailed relationship with Xi going again years however — largely due to Covid journey restrictions — the 2 have but to meet face-to-face since he took workplace.

According to the White House, Biden’s chief purpose is to set up “guardrails” for the 2 superpowers.

This is supposed to be certain that whereas they sharply disagree on democracy, and are more and more rivals on the geopolitical stage, they’ll keep away from open battle.

“He wants to make sure that the lines of communication with President Xi on all the issues, whether they’re issues again that we agree on or issues where we have significant difficulty with — that they can still pick up the phone and talk to one another candidly,” Kirby mentioned.

Where to place the guardrails, nevertheless, is difficult amid so many unresolved disputes, together with a simmering commerce conflict begun below Donald Trump’s presidency.

Asked whether or not Biden might elevate a few of the 25 % import duties positioned on billions of {dollars} of Chinese merchandise by Trump, Kirby mentioned there was nonetheless no determination.

“We do believe… that the tariffs that were put in place by his predecessor were poorly designed. We believe that they’ve increased costs for American families and small businesses, as well as ranchers. And that’s, you know, without actually addressing some of China’s harmful trade practices,” Kirby mentioned.

But “I don’t have any decision to speak to with respect to tariffs by the president. He’s working this out.”

WATCH | China warns US of consequences if US House Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan

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