United States and China: Xi warns Biden not to play with fire in Taiwan before the possible visit of Pelosi | International
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The fifth call in the last 18 months between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping has lasted two hours and 17 minutes, according to the White House. The pending issues between the two most powerful men in the world are many, after all: the tension over the invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s support for Moscow, China’s aggressive attitude in the Pacific region and the economic cold war between the two. powers. An unexpected guest has joined the list in recent weeks: Nancy Pelosi. The intention of the president of the House of Representatives to stop in Taiwan in August, as part of an Asian tour that she will undertake taking advantage of the Capitol break, has stirred up Beijing and has provoked movements in the shadows of members of the Biden Administration, concerned about their safety and the health of bilateral relations, to try to persuade a notoriously ungovernable politician not to travel. Biden himself has said that the Pentagon thinks that “it is not a good idea”.
Xi has not beaten around the bush. According to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese leader has warned Biden that “if you play with fire you can get burned,” referring to Taiwan. Stressing that “the international community expects China and the United States to play a leading role in maintaining world peace and security,” Xi stressed that “the history regarding Taiwan is clear,” as well as that “both sides of the Strait [que separa el continente de la isla] they belong to one China.” The leader of the Asian giant reiterated that his country is firmly opposed to “separatism” and “interference by external forces” and demanded consistency between the words and actions of the US side.
The White House has been slower to share the details of the talk, which it frames in “efforts to keep and deepen the lines of communication” open, and to “responsibly manage” differences. “The two presidents discussed a variety of issues important to the bilateral relationship, as well as other regional and global issues,” according to the summary of the conversation shared by Washington. “On Taiwan, President Biden stressed that US 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,” he added. A senior official from the US Administration, who spoke to the press protected by anonymity on Wednesday, explained that Biden went to the video call with the intention of putting on the table the idea of setting a price cap on Russian oil to punish Moscow for his invasion of the Ukraine. That opportunity was already raised this month by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to her Chinese counterparts.
Ambiguity of the Biden Administration
The Biden Administration’s policy toward Taiwan has so far been governed by ambiguity: yes, but no. If Beijing invades the island, the United States agrees to defend it. At the same time, it maintains its adherence to the “one China” principle, which governs the Asian giant’s diplomatic ties with other countries. The expression implies exactly that: that there is only one China, and this includes Taiwan, where the nationalist troops defeated by the communist army in the civil war took refuge in 1949.
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Washington’s cautious position, cemented for decades, has been called into question on several occasions by statements by Biden himself, who in November described the island as “independent.” And military exchanges and cooperation with Taipei, once kept secret, are now being made public. In the midst of such a tense panorama, Xi is preparing to be re-elected at the end of the fall for a third term (another five years), without precedent since Mao Zedong. The general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, about to celebrate its 20th congress, suspects that the United States is about to leave its dilettantism with respect to Taiwan behind for good, so this does not seem the moment to allow itself the luxury of appearing weak.
So Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which has not yet been made official and comes after an attempt in April that prevented covid, is what is known in English as a catch 22, expression that popular speech borrowed from the novelist Joseph Heller, who coined it in his magisterial Trap 22 to define a situation without escape. If the Democrat visits the island, bad. If not, worse.
China has promised that it will not hesitate when the time comes: “It will take forceful measures” if the speaker of the House of Representatives travels to the democratically self-governed island in August. The deliberately chosen words in Mandarin by the Chinese government – which does not usually leave anything to chance – suggest that the Asian giant’s response will be more energetic than on other occasions.
From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs they have warned that the visit of the delegation “would seriously impact the base on which bilateral relations are founded” and “would undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China”, a language that raises the tone with respect to the declarations made when other lower-ranking US lawmakers visited Taiwan. The Ministry of Defense, for its part, has warned that “the Army will not sit idly by and will take action on the matter in order to thwart any interference by external forces or secessionist attempts.”
Pelosi’s visit is especially irritating to China because she is second in line to the presidential succession, after Vice President Kamala Harris. In addition, she would be the highest-ranking US legislator to set foot on the island since Newt Gingrich’s visit in 1997 (then the Asian giant, in the process of welcoming Hong Kong back, chose to swallow its anger ). Much has changed in these 25 years: Beijing is richer, more heavily armed and shows less patience with Taiwan, which, in its view of things, has no right to cultivate its own foreign relations. During the last call between the two leaders last March, Xi already warned Biden that “if the Taiwan issue is not managed properly, it would be a turning point for bilateral relations.” Beijing considers that any trip by a high-ranking US official to Taipei compromises this geopolitical convention, since it is interpreted as a show of support for its independence.
The other difference is that Gingrich, then a Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, traveled under Democrat Bill Clinton, and pestering his opponent Clinton was one of his favorite pastimes, while Pelosi is a Democrat like Biden. In other words: again, trouble is growing at home for the American leader. Harassed by galloping inflation due to high gasoline prices and with the economy, since Thursday, in a technical recession, Biden breaks negative records of acceptance by the American people (his ratios are stuck at a very unflattering 30%), and the majority of his voters would prefer, according to a recent survey, that another, any other, be presented in the 2024 elections. when the appointment at the polls arrives, he will be about to turn 83 years old.
According to some analysts, the more frontal language deployed in recent times by Beijing does not imply that a security crisis will be triggered in the Strait of Formosa at this time. From the thinktank The Eurasia Group believes that Xi will probably approach the issue in a similar way as he has done so far: with an increase in military exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan and with more incursions of his fighters and bombers into the island’s defense airspace. . They add that China could also respond with sanctions against Pelosi and even with units of the People’s Liberation Army flying near her plane.
For Taiwan, Pelosi’s visit is enormously valuable, as it would mean receiving the support of a high-ranking political personality just a couple of weeks after losing another of her great supporters on the international scene: the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, assassinated while offering a rally and author of the phrase “a contingency in Taiwan is a contingency in Japan”. Abe has always associated peace on the island with stability in the region.
Kim Jong-un accuses Washington and Seoul of bringing the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war”
Kim Jong-un has accused the US and South Korea of pushing the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war”, in light of the announcement that the two countries are preparing their first large-scale joint military exercises since 2018. The North Korean took advantage of an event held on Wednesday to commemorate the end of the Korean War in 1953, a conflict that led to the division of the country in two, to threaten to resort to nuclear weapons to “annihilate” the South Korean forces, if necessary. His words, collected by the state media at the service of the communist dictatorship, emerged this Thursday.
“We are fully prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to obediently, accurately and quickly mobilize its absolute power in accordance with its mission,” Kim said. “It is a suicidal act.” , absurd and extremely dangerous to talk about military action against our country; we already have the most powerful and fearsome weapon,” he added.
The joint military exercises between Washington and Seoul that have angered Kim are scheduled for late August or early September, and are the first large-scale exercises since 2018, when Donald Trump was in the White House and he orchestrated an unprecedented rapprochement. to Pyongyang.
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