Beijing/Washington: Striking a tough posture at the much-awaited virtual summit with his US counterpart Joe Biden on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said that China will “certainly defend” its sovereignty and security interests as he warned that whoever plays with fire over Taiwan will “get burnt”.
In a lengthy speech touching a host of issues at the over three-hour-long summit, Xi, fresh from last week’s ruling Communist Party of China Plenum meet endorsing an unprecedented third term for him from next year and perhaps for life, pointed Beijing’s “red lines” on a host of issues, including Taiwan, and said China’s rise is an “inevitable trend of history” and cannot be stopped.
“I hope that, Mr President, you can exercise political leadership to return the United States’ China policy to a rational and pragmatic track,” Xi told Biden, according to Xinhua, a reference to tough-on-China policies that Beijing hoped would be rolled back after Biden came to office.
Biden spoke of avoiding conflict as well.
“It seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that our competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended,” Biden said during a short exchange observed by reporters at the start of the meeting. “Just simple, straightforward competition.”
The leaders had a “healthy debate”, a senior US official said afterwards. Biden stressed the importance of China fulfilling its commitments under a trade pact negotiated with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, the US official said.
On Taiwan, where China has pressed over 200 military jets into the estranged islands air defence zone ratcheting tensions, 68-year-old Xi ascribed the tensions to the repeated attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their independence agenda as well as the intention of some Americans to use Taiwan to contain China.
“Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire. Whoever plays with fire will get burnt. The one-China principle and the three China-US Joint Communiques are the political foundation of China-US relations,” Xi told Biden.
Previous US administrations have all made clear commitments on this question. “The true status quo of the Taiwan question and what lies at the heart of one-China are as follows: there is but one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing China,” he said.