U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to hold a phone conference with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) head Xi Jinping on July 28. Taiwan is expected to be a key agenda item, as is a proposed trip to Taipei by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that managing economic competition between the two countries would also be a focus of the call.
“This is a call that has been scheduled for a long time and there’s already a pretty robust agenda of things for these two leaders to talk about,” said Kirby during a press call.
“Everything from the tensions over Taiwan to the war in Ukraine, as well as how we better manage competition between our two nations, certainly in the economic sphere.”
The call between Biden and Xi will be the fifth of its kind. It comes amid a continued bottoming out of Sino-American relations on issues of trade and security, as well as serious dustups over the role of Taiwan on the global scene.
Taiwan in the Crosshairs
The CCP claims that Taiwan is a breakaway province of China. Xi has vowed to unite the island with the mainland and has not ruled out the use of force to do so. Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, however, and has never been under the control of the CCP.
The United States adheres to a One China Policy, which means that it does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Though it does not maintain peer-to-peer ties, however, the United States is legally bound to provide Taiwan with the arms necessary to defend itself.
U.S.-Taiwan relations have roared back to the fore in the last week after the CCP issued a series of aggressive remarks to the United States following reports that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was planning a trip to Taiwan.
CCP leadership threatened “forceful measures” against the United States and Taiwan should Pelosi visit. Following the remarks, Biden publicly stated that Pelosi should not go to Taiwan as a matter of national security, in an apparent concession to the communist regime.
Kirby defended Biden’s statement and said that Pelosi was in the line of presidential succession. As such, he said, her travel was a matter of national security. Only she could make decisions about her travel, he added.
China Rattling the Sabre
Kirby said that the CCP’s “Bellicosity” was “unhelpful,” underscoring the increasingly belligerent rhetoric that has come out of Beijing in the last several months. Rhetoric that, more often than not, has targeted Taiwan and the United States for special harassment and intimidation.
In June, a Chinese general went so far as to threaten U.S. defense secretary Lloyd Austin, saying that the CCP would “not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost” to prevent Taiwan’s independence from being recognized.
Meanwhile, the CCP has renewed its own military provocations against Taiwan. Over the last month, the CCP launched military sorties into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, and even went so far as to falsely claim that there were no international waters in the 100 miles of ocean between Taiwan and the mainland.
The provocations have not gone without a response from Taiwan, whose democratic government began a series of drills earlier in the week simulating a Chinese missile attack.
Neither Pelosi nor Taiwan’s foreign ministry have confirmed any travel plans. Pelosi would be the first sitting House Speaker to visit the island since 1997. At that time, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taipei, and issued a warning to Beijing that the United States would defend Taiwan.