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Biden and Xi call over tensions rising over Taiwan

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U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping called for over two hours on Thursday to discuss Taiwan as tensions increase.


Xi warned the U.S. not to step in with the conflict that arise with Taiwan, according to the New York Times. The U.S. president responded that he did not want to intervene in the current situation.


Biden also said to Xi that the U.S. opposes Taiwan's change in status in a forceful manner and that U.S. policy remains on Taiwan, BBC reported.


“President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes anyone who will change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told the New York Times after the call.


Xi also talked about the one-China principle and said that the Biden administration should follow it, BBC reported. Xi strongly warned Biden over the call.


"Public opinion shall not be violated, and if you play with fire you get burned. I hope the US side can see this clearly," he told Biden, according to China's state news agency.


A potential visit by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan was another subject of discussion.  Although the state department said Pelosi did not announce any travel, China warned of “serious consequences” if the visit were to happen, according to BBC.


Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said although the strong comment, China is not looking to use military force, the New York Times reports.


“The Chinese have made clear they want Pelosi’s visit canceled, but Beijing surely does not want military conflict right now,” he said.


Thursday’s call was Xi and Biden's fifth conversation after Biden was elected to office. Some analyze that Xi’s warnings and comments are similar to his statements made in the two leader’s meeting last November.


"The portion of the conversation on Taiwan was extremely similar to the last conversation. Xi's warnings did not escalate," said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said to Reuters.


Tensions have been high between China and the U.S. as the war occurs between Russia and Ukraine. China did not join the American-led attempt to isolate Russia and has made claims about controlling the Taiwan Strait in the past few months, according to the New York Times.  As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine poses a parallel with China and Taiwan, the situation is under heavier watch.


Biden has previously commented that he will use force to defend Taiwan if a situation like Ukraine occurs on the island, the New York Times reports.


The two leaders started to arrange a possible face-to-face meeting, CNN reported. As Xi had restricted travel from the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden and Xi had not yet been able to hold an in-person summit.


Edited by: Sara Moreia

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