Washington and Beijing exchange Taiwan warnings ahead of Biden-Xi summit

The United States and China exchanged stern warnings about Taiwan on Saturday, ahead of a virtual summit scheduled for Monday between US Presidents Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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In an interview with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “expressed concern about the continuing military, diplomatic and economic pressure from the People’s Republic of China against Taiwan,” according to a statement from the State Department.

MM. Biden and Xi are scheduled to meet for the third time Washington time Monday night (early Tuesday morning in Beijing) via video conference. The conversation between MM. Blinken and Wang were destined to prepare for this summit.

The head of US diplomacy “urged Beijing to enter into a meaningful dialogue” to resolve its differences with Taipei “peacefully and in accordance with the wishes and interests of the Taiwanese people,” according to the State Department.

Wang, for his part, warned the United States against any action that could be construed as support for “Taiwan independence,” according to a summary of the exchange released by the Chinese government.

“Any collusion or support of the forces for” Taiwan independence “damages the peace in the Taiwan Strait and can only be a boomerang,” warned China’s foreign minister.

The Biden-Xi summit comes as disputes accumulate between Washington and Beijing, each of which stands firm on its positions on trade or human rights.

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks over Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a rogue province that must return to its fold.

Beijing has stepped up its actions in recent years to isolate Taiwan on the international stage and stop any attempt to recognize the island as an independent state.

China has also stepped up its military activity near Taiwan. And Washington reiterated its commitment to help Taipei build and strengthen its defense.

Monday’s summit “provides an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss how to responsibly handle competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, while working together in areas where interests align,” the State Department said.

The US president has never hidden his desire to meet in person with the Chinese leader, and did not hesitate to criticize his absence during the recent G20 and COP26 summits.

But he must be satisfied with a virtual meeting with Xi Jinping, who has not left China for almost two years, citing health reasons.

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