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China’s Xi Warned Biden Over Taiwan During San Fran Summit

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Joe Biden that he planned to absorb Taiwan at some point, even if it meant doing so by force, during their recent summit in San Francisco, according to sources who spoke to NBC.

The outlet noted that the sources said Xi told Biden that China would unify with Taiwan but did not give a timetable. The Chinese leader added during “a group meeting attended by a dozen American and Chinese officials that China’s preference is to take Taiwan peacefully, not by force,” NBC News reported.

During the meeting, the Chinese leader also addressed public forecasts by U.S. military leaders suggesting that Xi intends to annex Taiwan in 2025 or 2027. Xi reportedly informed Biden that such predictions were inaccurate since he had not specified a particular timeframe for such actions, as noted by two current and one former official who was briefed on the meeting.

Before the summit, Chinese officials requested that Biden publicly affirm that the U.S. supports China’s pursuit of peaceful reunification with Taiwan and does not endorse Taiwanese independence. The White House declined this request, NBC News reported.

The newly revealed information sheds light on a pivotal meeting between the two leaders aimed at easing tensions between their respective nations.

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NBC News noted further: Xi’s private warning to Biden, while not markedly different from his past public comments on reunifying Taiwan, got the attention of U.S. officials because it was delivered at a time when China’s behavior toward Taiwan is seen as increasingly aggressive and ahead of a potentially pivotal presidential election in the self-governing democratic island next month.

Following the publication of the story, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called on Democrats and Republicans to work together to deter China.

“This story as reported is beyond unnerving,” Graham said. “I will be working with Democratic and Republican Senators to do two things quickly. First, create a robust defense supplemental for Taiwan and second, draft pre-invasion sanctions from hell to impose on China if they take action to seize Taiwan.”

Officials who are familiar with the back and forth between Xi and Biden said that the Chinese leader’s tone was blunt, as usual, but not confrontational.

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“His language was no different than what he has always said. He is always tough on Taiwan. He’s always had a tough line,” said one U.S. official who is familiar with the exchange.

At the previous year’s Chinese Communist Party Congress, Xi publicly declared that China would use military force against Taiwan if it declares independence with foreign support. He clarified that the threat of force “is directed solely at interference by outside forces and the few separatists seeking” Taiwanese independence.

“Xi, who has set a goal of doubling the size of the Chinese economy by 2035, also said that ‘we must continue to pursue economic development as our central task.’ Some experts believe it is doubtful that China would attack Taiwan if it does not declare independence because a military conflict would likely prevent Beijing from reaching its economic goals,” NBC News reported.

The White House was hoping that the meeting would ease tensions between the two countries.

“We’re in a competitive relationship, China and the United States, but my responsibility is to make this rational and manageable, so it doesn’t result in conflict,” Biden said. “That’s what I’m all about. That’s what this is about.”

CIA Director William Burns noted earlier this year that, according to a U.S. intelligence estimate, Xi has directed his military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027. “Now, that does not mean that he’s decided to conduct an invasion in 2027, or any other year, but it’s a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition,” Burns added.

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