Xi tells US to handle Taiwan ‘properly’ to avoid damaging ties

Chinese president made comments in call with US counterpart Joe Biden, just hours after a Chinese aircraft carrier sailed through Taiwan Strait.

he Shandong aircraft carrier is seen at a naval port in Sanya in southern China's Hainan Province
The Shandong aircraft carrier, pictured at port in southern China, sailed through the Taiwan Strait just before Xi Jinping and Joe Biden held their first direct call in months [File: Li Gang/Xinhua via AP]

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told US President Joe Biden on Friday that the Taiwan issue needs to be “handled properly” to avoid having a negative effect on relations between the two countries, according to Chinese state media.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island.

Washington, which is seeking Beijing’s help in restoring peace in Ukraine after Russia’s February 24 invasion, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei but is Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier.

“Some individuals in the United States are sending the wrong signals to pro-independence forces in Taiwan, and that’s very dangerous,” Xi told Biden during a video call between the two men on Friday.

“If the Taiwan issue is not handled properly, it will have a subversive impact on the relationship between the two countries.”

In a reminder of Beijing’s threat to assert its claim by force, the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, just hours before Biden and Xi spoke. The carrier was shadowed by a US destroyer.

A White House statement said Biden reiterated in the call with Xi that US policy on Taiwan had not changed and emphasised that Washington “continues to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo”.

Crowds of people march in support of Ukraine waving the country's blue and yellow flag during a rally in Taipei on March 13
Taiwan, which is claimed by China, has thrown its support behind Ukraine [File: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo]

China has, over the past two years, stepped up its military activity near the island to assert its claims.

“[We] hope the US side will pay adequate attention” to the issue, Xi told Biden.

The US-China relationship, long fraught, has only become more strained since the start of Biden’s presidency. Biden has repeatedly criticised China not just over its provocations against Taiwan, but also over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the crackdown in Hong Kong.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed thanks to Biden for his “emphasis on maintaining the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as his firm support for Taiwan’s security”.

It called on China to take concrete actions and condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Taiwan, which rejects China’s sovereignty claims, has joined in Western-led sanctions against Russia and sent humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees.

Xi also told Biden that the war in Ukraine must end as soon as possible, according to Chinese state media.

All parties should jointly support the Russia-Ukraine dialogue while the United States and NATO should also conduct talks with Russia to solve the “crux” of the Ukraine crisis, Xi said

Source: News Agencies