Biden, China’s Xi Talk as a Pelosi Trip to Taiwan Threatens to Inject New Tensions , #Biden #Chinas #Talk #Pelosi #Trip #Taiwan #Threatens #Inject #Tensions Welcome to O L A S M E D I A TV N E W S, This is what we have for you today:
WASHINGTON—President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are holding a phone meeting facing an array of friction-filled issues, as a possible trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatens to add new tensions to severely strained relations.
For the two leaders, the virtual meeting Thursday is their fifth since Mr. Biden took office. Their last conversation, in March, was dominated by Russia’s military assault on Ukraine with questions about Beijing’s partnership with Moscow. Officials on both sides see such meetings as an effective, potentially stabilizing channel, given that Messrs. Biden and Xi have known each other for more than a decade since they both served as vice presidents.
The U.S. and China have in recent weeks made tentative efforts to put a floor on what for years has been a severely deteriorating relationship as the two powers sparred over a full range of issues—from trade and technology to Russia’s war on Ukraine and the global order.
Mr. Biden is expected to continue to push Mr. Xi against aiding Russia, while the two discuss areas of agreement, including climate change. The meeting comes as Mr. Biden is considering lifting some Trump-era tariffs, something both Beijing and American businesses want, though the Biden administration is divided on whether such a move would offset expected domestic political fallout.
A Taiwan trip by Mrs. Pelosi (D., Calif.) would likely set back any nascent rapprochement and set off a new bout of tensions, U.S. officials and international affairs specialists said. The visit, they said, would confirm Chinese suspicions that the U.S. is deepening support for Taiwan, allowing its democratic government to resist Beijing’s claims to the island, and would be seen as an affront to Mr. Xi at a time of high political stakes.
Taiwan conducted naval drills Tuesday as part of its annual military and civil-preparedness exercises. The drills came amid rising concerns in the West that China could attack the island. Photo: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg News
The conversation between the two leaders started shortly after 8:30 a.m. during Mr. Biden’s morning in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Xi is all but assured in getting a norm-breaking third term as Communist Party leader at a political gathering this fall, Chinese affairs specialists said. But, they said, Mr. Xi faces resistance within the party to his authority, and politicking is under way over leadership appointments that could enhance or hem in his power, so he can’t afford to be seen as weak over Taiwan.
“This really is a moment in Chinese politics,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program with the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington. “Xi Jinping could be criticized if he does not respond forcefully to a challenge to Chinese sovereignty.”
A demonstration of China’s resolve is likely to come from the Chinese military, said Ms. Glaser. Possible scenarios, she said, include Chinese air force planes intruding into Taiwan’s territorial airspace–a provocation Beijing has refrained from previously–or trying to interfere with the flight path of the U.S. military aircraft Mrs. Pelosi is expected to travel on.
Chinese officials publicly and privately have warned vehemently of unspecified consequences should the visit proceed.
“The tensions between China and the U.S. have significantly increased the risk of a mistake that could lead to a wider conflagration,” said Wang Huiyao, president of the Beijing think tank the Center for China and Globalization. Mr. Wang said Thursday’s meeting gives Messrs. Xi and Biden an opportunity to set some bottom lines on Taiwan and other sensitive issues. “It lays the foundation for continued de-escalation of the situation,” he said.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping can’t afford to be seen as weak over Taiwan as he prepares to orchestrate a norm-breaking third presidential term.
Li Xueren/Associated Press
The Ukraine war has further complicated U.S.-China relations. Mr. Xi has forged a close partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a combined effort to diminish U.S. power around the world. The Biden administration has sought to prevent China from outright supporting the Russian assault on Ukraine, and so far, U.S. officials said, sanctions appear to be keeping Beijing from providing substantial assistance.
Renewed tensions over Taiwan also come on top of what senior Biden administration officials say is increasingly aggressive behavior by China’s People’s Liberation Army.
“In recent months, we’ve witnessed a sharp increase in unsafe and unprofessional behavior by PLA ships and aircraft, implicating not only U.S. forces but allied forces operating in the region,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner told a conference in Washington this week, according to a transcript.
For Beijing, a trip by a politician as senior as Mrs. Pelosi is seen as part of a perilous backtracking by the U.S. on commitments limiting its relations with Taiwan. The Biden administration, in turn, has said it is abiding by those previous agreements, as well as a U.S. law requiring it to provide weapons for Taiwan’s defense. Mr. Biden is expected to reiterate those pledges in his talk with Mr. Xi, said John Kirby, a White House spokesman.
Mrs. Pelosi hasn’t confirmed that she will make the trip. Some members of Congress and China hawks in the security establishment have urged Mrs. Pelosi to go, saying it is necessary to show support for Taiwan and not allow Beijing to set terms on U.S. relations with the self-ruled island. While Mr. Biden hasn’t publicly said whether Mrs. Pelosi should make the trip, he last week said the U.S. military doesn’t think it is a good idea.
“The speaker of the House makes her own decisions about travel,” Mr. Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “We provide facts, context, analysis, geopolitical realities that she’ll be facing wherever she goes. Our job is to inform her decision-making process, and we’re doing that.”
Aside from members of Congress, ex-Trump administration officials have made a spate of recent visits, including Mark Esper, who served as defense secretary, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Ms. Glaser, of the German Marshall Fund, said that raises alarms in Beijing should a Republican administration come to power in the next U.S. election.
Proposals are also working their way through Congress that would elevate political and defense ties with Taiwan. Of particular concern to Beijing, U.S. officials said, is a proposed Senate bill that would require the U.S. to provide armaments capable of deterring an attack by China, rather than the current stipulation of “arms of a defensive character.”
The bill, known as the Taiwan Policy Act and sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D., NJ), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would also make Taiwan eligible for billions of dollars in U.S. grants for weapons purchases and training, a privilege afforded to Israel and other close U.S. allies.
Over the past month, China has taken a more constructive tone in meetings between senior officials, though Chinese officials still lobbed barbs at U.S. policy, U.S. officials said. In a six-hour discussion in Bali this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave Secretary of State Antony Blinken a list of prospective areas of cooperation, including global health, North Korea and arms control, the U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials are unsure why Chinese officials have appeared to be more constructive in meetings after more than a year of bitter encounters. In part, some of the officials said, Mr. Xi may be seeking to calm relations as a political tactic to show detractors in Beijing that he can manage relations with the U.S., a still important market and investor for China.
—Keith Zhai contributed to this article.
Write to Charles Hutzler at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alex Leary at email@example.com
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8