Tense exchanges between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden over Taiwan

The Chinese and American presidents met at length during the night from Monday to Tuesday. A virtual exchange of three and a half hours relatively tense because of the main subject mentioned: Taiwan. Joe Biden warned his counterpart that the United States “strongly opposes” any “unilateral attempt to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” according to a text published by the White House.

“The Taiwanese authorities have tried on several occasions to rely on the United States for independence and some in the United States are trying to use Taiwan to control China,” Xi Jinping pointed out. “It is a very dangerous trend which amounts to playing with fire,” he warned, according to statements reported by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. China sees Taiwan as a rebellious province that must return to its fold.

Biden concerned about Tibet

Joe Biden also expressed his “concerns about (China’s) practices in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and human rights in general.” And he criticized China’s trade and economic practices deemed “unfair”.

Joe Biden had estimated in his opening statements that “the competition between the two countries should not turn into a conflict, whether intentional or not”. “China and the United States must improve their communication and cooperation,” Xi Jinping said for his part, saying he was happy to see “his old friend” for the first time through screens, while their two previous exchanges had been done over the phone.

“Never a good idea to bet against the American people”

But in Washington as in Beijing, we wanted to temper expectations on this discussion. If after the coming to power of Joe Biden, the tone has changed compared to the outbursts of the Trump era, the relationship between Washington and Beijing remains extremely tense.

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This virtual meeting took place at a time when Xi Jinping continues to strengthen his grip on the regime. The Chinese Communist Party passed a text last week calling on “the entire Party, army and people to unite more closely around the Central Committee of which Xi Jinping forms the heart.”

The US president, faced with an extremely divided political landscape, and a pandemic that he is struggling to eradicate, mentioned China on Monday by promulgating a gigantic infrastructure plan, supposed to allow America to “win the competition” of 21st century. At the end of his speech, the American president repeated one of his favorite phrases: “It is never, never a good idea to bet against the American people. “

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