Biden discusses Taiwan with Xi Jinping on phone call, gets ‘uncrossable red line’ reply

US President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a telephonic conversation Tuesday amid a veneer of diplomatic stability between the two countries despite a range of thorny issues from trade to tech to investment.

US President Joe Biden (R) and China’s President Xi Jinping.(AFP)

While the White House’s version of the talks suggests that Biden rejected Xi’s request to lift a sweeping ban on shipments of advanced chips, the Chinese president, according to state media, told his US counterpart that Beijing “will not sit idly by” if the United States continues to suppress “China’s high-tech development”.

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“The two leaders held a candid and constructive discussion on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, including areas of cooperation and areas of difference,” the White House readout said.

“They reviewed and encouraged progress on key issues discussed at the Woodside Summit, including counternarcotics cooperation, ongoing military-to-military communication, talks to address AI-related risks, and continuing efforts on climate change and people-to-people exchanges,” it added.

The call comes as the US weighs a final decision on its review of tariffs on China, which is expected to include some new levies.

Biden underscored the paramount importance of upholding peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as advocating for the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, according to the White House.

Xi, on the other hand, told Biden that the issue of Taiwan was an “uncrossable red line”, state media said.

“Xi Jinping emphasised that the Taiwan issue is the first uncrossable red line in China-US relations,” a readout from state news agency Xinhua said, adding: “We will not allow separatist activities and external conniving in support of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces to go unchecked.”

Biden also expressed concerns regarding China’s support for Russia’s defence industry and its potential impact on European and transatlantic security.

Both leaders welcomed the ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and to manage the relationship through high-level diplomacy and working-level consultations in the coming weeks and months.

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