Concern and tension are reaching their peaks as U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping began their fifth call as leaders early Thursday morning. In the wake of getting word that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China came back with threats of strong measures.
As the two world leaders address their countries’ conflicts, its imperative to be aware of looming threats. Today’s phone call is filled with a broad list of intentions while keeping communication lines open. Biden plans to address climate and economic competition issues and explore the idea of placing a price cap on Russian oil to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine, which China has yet to condemn. U.S. officials also mentioned talks of the Biden Administration lifting some tariffs on Chinese goods to ease soaring inflation but said a decision was not expected to get made ahead of the call.
Tensions surged when the Chinese Foreign Ministry threatened to take “resolute and strong measures” on Tuesday if U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi proceeded with reported plans to visit Taiwan. Though the move would be deemed dramatic, it wouldn’t be considered unprecedented due to the visit showing support for the island and acting against China. Taiwan claims that it had an influx in Chinese Military presence and that China continues to serve as a looming economic threat.
Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, addressed the tension between Taiwan and China, saying, “The relationship is in such a toxic state. Mutual distrust is really at an all-time high. I think people don’t realize how dangerous this particular moment is.” She went on to say that Biden and Xi needed to concentrate their call on de-escalation, including potential safeguards against accidents.
Washington does not have official relations with Taiwan and follows a “one-China” policy that diplomatically recognizes Beijing, not Taipei. Although America has no ties to Taiwan, but under U.S. law, if the nation were visibly in trouble, America would be forced to grant Taiwan the means to defend itself. As the independence of Independent Taiwan seems to be melting away, Congress has been pressuring for more explicit support.
Senior research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Martin Chorzempa, said that playing up the issue in Taiwan could help Xi divert domestic attention from China’s sluggish economy. But “any reaction strong enough to trigger U.S. sanctions would create massive damage to China and the world economy.”
It seems China is looking to sway from economic hardships in the second half of this year. China’s state media announced today that it would try its hardest to improve the economy as much as possible this year.
Although the two countries are far from easing tension completely, diplomacy maintains their somewhat peaceful relations. Even though Biden can’t prevent Pelosi from visiting Taiwan, experts say it’s unlikely China would use force to prevent Pelosi’s U.S. government plane from landing in Taipei, but minded that China’s actions remain unpredictable.