US says Biden-Xi call expected to overshadow Taiwan, Ukraine tensions

WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to speak on Thursday amid renewed tensions over Russia’s invasion of Taiwan and Ukraine.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that managing economic competition between the two countries will also be a focus of the call.

It was the fifth call between the leaders, and China has given the Biden administration heightened warnings about a possible visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to democratically-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. read more

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“Tensions over Taiwan, the war in Ukraine, as well as how we best manage the rivalry between our two countries, certainly in the economic sphere,” Kirby said of the topics to be discussed.

“This is a long-planned call and these two leaders already have a pretty strong agenda to talk about,” he said.

Under its one-China policy, the US does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself. Despite speculation about Pelosi’s possible trip, the White House reiterated that the position has not changed.

Kirby said Pelosi was in line for the presidency and her foreign travel involved US national security. But only she can decide about her journey.

The “bellicosity” in Beijing’s rhetoric about the potential trip is fueling tensions, he said.

“We find it unhelpful and certainly not necessary at least under the circumstances,” he said.

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The administration is debating whether to raise some tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to boost the U.S. economy, but a decision is not expected ahead of the call, Kirby said.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, U.S., on Nov. 15, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Biden has pushed for legislation known as the CHIPs Act to provide about $52 billion in subsidies to the U.S. semiconductor industry, as well as a $24 billion investment tax credit for chip plants. To compete economically with China.

“That’s my expectation, but I’ll let you know when it’s set up,” Biden told reporters, referring to a planned call with Xi during virtual comments urging passage of the legislation on Monday.

The Senate is expected to vote on the final passage in the coming days, and the US House may follow suit later this week. read more

‘provocations’

The prospect of Pelosi’s trip is just one of a long list of disagreements affecting US-China relations.

Earlier on Tuesday, senior US officials blamed China for increased “provocations” against rival territorial claimants in the South China Sea and said the “aggressive and reckless behavior” of Chinese ships and aircraft was only a matter of time before a major incident or accident. . read more

Pelosi’s visit is the first by a House speaker since 1997, and China has said it is prepared to take stronger measures in response. read more

Daniel Russell, who served as the top U.S. diplomat for Asia under former President Barack Obama, said the Taiwan issue would create a real crisis without any U.S.-China mechanism to prevent it from escalating into conflict.

It’s unclear how much pressure the Biden administration is putting on Pelosi, but he said on the call that Xi could push the issue hard, adding: “We’re in a high-stakes moment that respects leaders in both countries. We have to tread carefully.”

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Still, Craig Singleton, senior China fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Xi would try to keep calm as the economy faces a sluggish economy under pressure from tough domestic COVID-19 measures ahead of a key Communist Party congress. fall

“While Xi will be clear and direct in raising China’s objections to Speaker Pelosi’s visit, he will not allow that one issue to derail the entire conversation because doing so would further complicate his already difficult governing agenda,” Singleton said.

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Reporting by Steve Holland, Michael Martina, Alexandra Alber, Trevor Hunnicutt and David Brunstrom in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Matthew Lewis, and Richard Bull

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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