Jul 26, 2022 - World

Biden-Xi call expected Thursday with Taiwan threats looming

Biden holds a virtual meeting with Xi last November. Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to hold a phone call on Thursday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: This will be the fifth call between the leaders since Biden took office, and comes at a time of heightened tensions over Taiwan due to a planned visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Russia's invasion of Ukraine and U.S. tariffs on China are also likely to be on the agenda.

  • National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on a briefing call Tuesday that Biden and his advisers were still "working out" their plans for the tariffs, amid speculation that some of the Trump-era measures will be rolled back to boost the U.S. economy.
  • Kirby said "security concerns" relating to Taiwan and other areas would be discussed on the call, along with issues tied to "economic competition" in what he called "one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world."
  • The U.S. has also been pressing Beijing not to aid Russia's military effort in Ukraine.

Worth noting: Biden said last Wednesday that he planned to speak with Xi "within the next 10 days," but the precise timing had not been announced.

  • The White House declined to comment for this story.

Looming over the meeting will be Pelosi's potential travel to Taiwan, which has not been officially announced but would make her the highest-ranking U.S. lawmaker to visit the island since 1997.

  • Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and reacts furiously to any hints of U.S. recognition for the self-governing island, has promised "serious consequences" if Pelosi makes the trip.
  • Asked about Pelosi's potential visit last Thursday, Biden said, “The military thinks it’s not a good idea right now." Kirby noted that the White House had been in touch with Pelosi's office about the security surrounding a potential trip, but that as far as he was aware no trip had been scheduled.
  • Experts and officials in Taipei largely want Pelosi to follow through on the visit, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports. Meanwhile, a growing chorus on Capitol Hill — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — contend that scrapping the visit would be handing China a diplomatic victory.

Yes, but: The NYT reports that some U.S. officials are growing concerned that China could resort to military action over Taiwan sooner than had previously seemed likely.

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