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Xi and Biden exchange warnings on Taiwan

Tensions over the issue have increased ahead of a rumored plan for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan.

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Washington: President Biden and President Xi Jinping warned each other over any move over Taiwan during a phone call that lasted more than two hours, BBC reported on Friday.

President Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the US strongly opposed any unilateral moves to change the island’s status, adding that US policy on Taiwan had not changed.

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President Xi told President Biden to abide by the one-China principle, warning him that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt”.

Tensions over the issue have increased ahead of a rumored plan for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan.

The state department says Ms. Pelosi has not announced any travel, but China has warned of “serious consequences” if she were to proceed with such a visit.

Last week, Biden told reporters “the military thinks it’s not a good idea”, but his White House has called Chinese rhetoric against any such trip “clearly unhelpful and not necessary”.

Ms. Pelosi, who is next in line to the presidency after the vice-president, would be the highest-ranking US politician to travel to Taiwan since 1997.

During Thursday’s phone call, Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi also discussed arranging a possible face-to-face meeting, a senior Biden administration official said, describing the bilateral as “direct” and “honest”.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that must become a part of the country – and has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve this.

However, under the one-China policy, Washington does not recognize Taipei diplomatically. But the US does sell weapons to the democratically self-governed island so that it can defend itself.

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