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Xi says improper handling of Taiwan affairs will hurt China-US ties

Closing session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the closing session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

March 19, 2022

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. counterpart Joe Biden on Friday that the Taiwan issue must be properly managed to avoid a negative impact on Sino-US relations, Chinese media said.

China says Taiwan, which it views as a breakaway province that must be returned to the herd by force if necessary, is the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with the United States.

Washington, which is seeking Beijing’s help in restoring peace to Ukraine after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei but is Taiwan’s top international supporter and arms supplier.

“Some people in the United States are sending the wrong signals to the pro-independence forces in Taiwan, and that is very dangerous,” Xi Biden said in a video call.

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

China sailed its aircraft carrier Shandong through the Taiwan Strait in the shadow of a US destroyer on Friday, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, just hours before the Chinese and US presidents were due to speak.

A White House statement said Biden reiterated in the call with Xi that US policy toward Taiwan has not changed, stressing that Washington “remains opposed to unilateral changes to the status quo.”

China has increased military activity near the island over the past two years in a bid to assert its claims to sovereignty.

“(We) hope that the US side will pay proper attention to the issue,” Xi told Biden.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked 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 action and condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Taiwan, which rejects China’s claims to sovereignty, has joined Western-led sanctions on Russia and sent humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees.

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

All parties should jointly support Russia-Ukraine dialogue, while the United States and NATO should also hold talks with Russia to resolve the “sticking point” of the Ukraine crisis, Xi said.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Nick Macfie, Chizu Nomiyama and William Mallard)

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Bobby Allyn

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