Xi Jinping asked Biden to stop Nancy Pelosi from visiting Taiwan, report says

Ahead of Pelosi’s visit earlier this month, Beijing had issued repeated warnings and threatened serious consequences

Maanya Sachdeva
Sunday 21 August 2022 02:58 EDT
Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taiwan amid US-China tensions

Chinese president Xi Jinping reportedly asked his US counterpart Joe Biden to stop house speaker Nancy Pelosi from visiting Taiwan during a phone conversation in July.

Her visit to the self-governed island nation, which China considers part of its territory, sparked backlash from Beijing.

China retailiated to Ms Pelosi’s visit on 3 August with military exercises in waters around Taiwan.

Ahead of the visit, which made Ms Pelosi the highest-ranking US official to go to Taiwan in 25 years, Beijing had issued repeated warnings and threatened serious consequences if she went to Taiwan.

Details of the “sensitive conversation” between Mr Xi and Mr Biden, which took place on 28 July, were reported by The Washington Post on Saturday.

A White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr Biden had to deny Mr Xi’s request.

He explained that since Congress was an autonomous branch of the government, Ms Pelosi was free to make her own decisions about foreign trips – like other Congress members.

Mr Biden also reportedly warned Mr Xi about against taking provocative or threatening action in light of Ms Pelosi’s then-impending visit, the official said.

Ahead of her visit, Ms Pelosi had said China cannot stop US officials from visiting Taiwan.

“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us from travelling there,” the House of Representatives speaker had said.

On 29 July, it was reported that Mr Biden and Mr Xi had agreed to their first face-to-face meeting since the US president was sworn in following a two hour and 20 minute phone call between the two leaders.

According to the White House’s statement released at the time, the conversation was part of efforts by Mr Biden and his aides to “maintain and deepen lines of communication” between Washington and Beijing, “responsibly manage” differences between the two countries, and “work together” where US and Chinese interests align.

A readout of the leaders’ call released by the Chinese foreign ministry said Mr Xi warned Mr Biden not to “play with fire” on Taiwan.

The senior administration official told reporters Mr Biden and Mr Xi engaged in a “direct and honest discussion” on the matter, and said the US president had “reaffirmed the United States commitment to our one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communiques and the six assurances” — standard diplomatic language laying out the ambiguous US position regarding the island’s de facto independence, The Independent reported.

“The two discussed that the United States and China have differences when it comes to Taiwan, they have managed those for over 40 years, and that keeping an open line of communication on this issue is essential to doing so,” the official said, last month.

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