Xi issues fiery warning to Taiwan, blames US for tensions

This combination image shows US President Joe Biden in Washington in 2021 and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Brasilia, Brazil in 2019. (AP file photo/Alex Brandon, Eraldo Peres)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spent more than two hours Thursday discussing the future of their complicated relationship, with Taiwan’s flashpoint once again emerging as a key point of tension.

According to an outline of the appeal released by Beijing, Xi highlighted China’s claim to the island, which has been governing itself for decades.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” the Foreign Office said. “We hope that the United States will be lucid about this.”

The White House released its own description of the Taiwan conversation, saying Biden “emphasized that United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or to undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

The purpose of the call, which began at 8:33 a.m. EDT and ended at 10:50 a.m. EDT, was to “responsibly manage our differences and work together where our interests align,” said said the White House.

As usual, China left no doubt that it blamed the United States for the deterioration in relations between the two countries.

“President Xi pointed out that to approach and define China-US relations in terms of strategic competition and see China as the main rival and the most serious long-term challenge would be to misunderstand China-US relations and interpret China’s development, and would mislead the people of both countries and the international community,” the foreign ministry said.

The call came as Biden aims to find new ways to work with China and contain his influence around the world. Differing perspectives on global health, economic policy and human rights have long tested the relationship – with China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adding further tension.

The latest pressure point was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, which has a democratic government and receives informal defensive support from the United States but which China considers part of its territory. Beijing has said it would view such a trip as a provocation, a threat that US officials are taking with increased seriousness in light of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

“If the United States insists on going its own way and challenging China’s financial performance, it will surely receive strong responses,” Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters earlier this week. . “All consequences arising therefrom shall be borne by the United States”