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President Biden at the White House on Monday. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told reporters Tuesday evening that he discussed Taiwan with China's President Xi Jinping in their phone call last month.

Why it matters: Beijing's growing aggression toward Taipei is drawing fresh concerns of a war in the region. Asked by a reporter Tuesday for comment on the provocation, Biden said he had "spoken with Xi about Taiwan," per a pool report. "We agree, we will abide by the Taiwan agreement," Biden said.

Between the lines: That's an apparent reference to a longstanding diplomatic understanding that the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the "sole legal government of China," without clarifying the United States' position on Taiwan's sovereignty, Bloomberg notes.

  • The Chinese government sent a record 145 warplanes into the self-governing island's air defense zone during a four-day period this month.

The bottom line: "We made it clear that I don't think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement," Biden said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of French senators arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday for a five-day visit, during which they will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen.

  • Chinese government officials had urged the lawmakers to cancel the visit, AP notes.

The big picture: Taiwan separated from China in 1949 amid the Chinese Civil War and Beijing regards Taipei as a breakaway province.

  • Taiwan's defense minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, told Parliament on Wednesday that the current crisis "is the most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted," per AP.

Go deeper: Jake Sullivan to meet top Chinese diplomat as Taiwan tensions soar

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the senators' visit, Chiu's comment and further context.

Go deeper

Oct 15, 2021 - World

First look: New bipartisan bill to counter China's economic coercion

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has announced a new bill that would establish an interagency task force to craft a response to China's use of economic measures to further its geopolitical goals.

Why it matters: The draft bill represents growing awareness in the U.S. that economic coercion is a cornerstone of the Chinese Communist Party's ability to project authoritarianism beyond its borders.

Updated 46 mins ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and planned to travel to another destination afterward when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne's spent longer under lockdowns than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

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