President Biden and President Xi held a nearly 3-hour phone call yesterday during which Xi reportedly warned Biden about interfering with Taiwan.

President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in China’s dealings with Taiwan during a phone call with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, that gave no indication of progress on trade, technology or other irritants, including Beijing’s opposition to a top American lawmaker’s possible visit to the island democracy, which the mainland claims as its own territory…

The Chinese government gave no indication Xi and Biden discussed possible plans by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan, which the ruling Communist Party says has no right to conduct foreign relations. But Xi rejected “interference by external forces” that might encourage Taiwan to try to make its decades-old de facto independence permanent…

A Ministry of Defense spokesman said ahead of Thursday’s call that Washington “must not arrange for Pelosi to visit Taiwan.” He said the ruling party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, would take “strong measures to thwart any external interference.”

Pelosi’s name may not have been mentioned but that’s clearly what this was about. Remember, Pelosi was scheduled to visit Taiwan earlier this year but canceled at the last moment after she tested positive for COVID. So this has been a concern for the Chinese for months. Today it appears that Pelosi’s planned trip to Asia is a still a go but a possible stop in Taiwan is considered tentative.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to depart Friday for a tour of Asia, though whether she stops in Taiwan remains uncertain, a person familiar with the plans said.

Pelosi’s trip includes stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore — all US allies in the region.

But a drop-in to self-governing Taiwan was still only tentative as China issues warnings about the House speaker making a possible visit and US-China relations are at a low point.

My guess is that she’s still going but that her decision not to confirm when is intended to increase the security of the flight. There have been lots of arguments over the past week, including from the White House, that Pelosi’s visit is a dangerous escalation at a time when tensions are already high. What these arguments often downplay is that the reason tensions are so high is that China is planning to seize Taiwan by force and has been moving in that direction for years. The PLA has sent hundreds of airplanes toward Taiwan, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, on what has become a routine basis. President Xi Jinping vowed he would reunify the island last summer at a speech celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CCP. And last month China announced that it had full jurisdiction over the Taiwan straight, meaning navigation through the straight by US ships would be off limits.

That declaration may soon be tested by the USS Ronald Reagan:

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group re-entered the South China Sea and is heading north as China threatens military action should U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi make a visit to Taiwan.

The carrier left Singapore after a five-day port call on July 26, according to a statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The statement did not specify the USS Ronald Reagan’s current location but the U.S. Navy released a couple of photos of the carrier refueling-at-sea with the replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe in the South China Sea on Wednesday.

Data provided by the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic show the USNS Tippecanoe was well inside the South China Sea at the time of the replenishment operation…

An analyst who wishes to stay anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue told RFA they think the Ronald Reagan will “sail close to the east side of Taiwan in a show of power but will not engage in any confrontation with China’s People’s Liberation Army.”

The east side of the island means the carrier group would not pass through the straight. Still, it will be in the area and could change course at any time.

China has been openly escalating the conflict over Taiwan. The question is whether the US will continue to stand up for Taiwan through arms sales and shows of force or will back off because China demands it. It seems the Biden administration would prefer to back off but, to her credit, Pelosi is refusing to go along.

Finally, here’s former state media commentator Hu Xijin claiming US jets escorting Pelosi’s plane to Taiwan would constitute an invasion and would be grounds for shooting down her plane. This guy is a nationalist blowhard but still, threatening to kill a top US official if she won’t turn back shows you how bad China wants this win.

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