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China warns US not to ‘play with fire’ as Joe Biden, Xi Jinping talk for over 2 hours

Vivek Mishra
Vivek MishraJul 29, 2022 | 10:30

China warns US not to ‘play with fire’ as Joe Biden, Xi Jinping talk for over 2 hours

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President talked for over 2 hours. (AP Photo)

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday warned the US not to "play with fire" over the concerns about a possible visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

US President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping talked about a range of issues during a phone call that lasted more than two hours.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this,” a statement released by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Biden and Xi are also exploring meeting in person, AP reported quoting a senior White House administration official. The call was Biden and Xi's fifth conversation since February 2021.

“Some US politicians would do anything to benefit themselves, even at the expense of China-US ties, calm in the Taiwan Strait and stability of the world,” Zhao Lijian, a China foreign ministry spokesperson said on Pelosi’s potential Taiwan trip.

White House response: The White House also released a statement saying that the two presidents discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship and other regional and global issues. "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 statement said.

Taiwan issue: The latest controversy over Taiwan is due to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to the island. Taiwan has been ruled separately from China since 1949, but Beijing considers it part of its territory and wants the island to be reunified. The US on many occasions has said that it will provide military support to Taiwan.

Why Pelosi wants to visit Taiwan: Pelosi has been a staunch critic of China throughout her more than three decades in the US Congress. She was also a strong supporter of 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, making her a target of caustic criticism from Beijing, reported AP.

What do experts say? Wen-Ti Sung, a China expert at Australian National University, told Financial Times that Beijing’s posturing in the run-up to Thursday’s call had been “tough but far from its toughest”, probably reflecting that the Chinese Communist party leadership was still deciding how to react if Pelosi does not call off the visit.

Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center think tank in the US said that Xi may have an incentive to tamp down tensions as he seeks a third term as president, reported AP. “They cannot afford to have the relationship with the United States ruptured,” she said.

Last updated: July 29, 2022 | 10:30
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