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US, China diplomats trade warnings over Taipei ahead of Biden-Xi summit

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome, Italy, on October 31, 2021. (Photo by Xinhua)

The top diplomats from China and the United States have exchanged stern warnings over the issue of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) and Washington’s support for pro-independence forces in the self-ruled island ahead of Monday's summit between their leaders.

The virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, comes against a backdrop of rising tensions between the two sides over a range of controversial issues, among them Taipei and trade disputes.

According to a phone call, the readout of which was released by China on Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about preparations for the November 15 summit. During the call, Blinken raised concerns over Beijing's alleged "military, diplomatic, and economic pressure" on Chinese Taipei.

Wang, for his part, said US actions might seem supportive of "Taiwan independence," warning that, "Any connivance of and support for the 'Taiwan independence' forces undermines peace across the Taiwan Strait and would only boomerang in the end."

American officials have called Monday's summit an opportunity to "responsibly manage competition" while trying to cooperate in areas where the two countries align.

Biden and Xi have talked by phone twice since the US Democrat moved into the White House.

The Chinese leader warned last week against the return of Cold War-era tensions in Asia-Pacific, apparently referring to US interference and provocative moves in the region.

On Tuesday, China conducted a "combat readiness patrol" near the Taiwan Strait following a visit to Taipei by members of the US Congress, which sparked immediate condemnation from Beijing. 

China said the drills were aimed at the "seriously wrong" words and actions of "relevant countries" on the Taipei issue and the activities of the so-called "independence" forces on the self-ruled island.

Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington would ensure Taipei can defend itself to avoid anyone "trying to disrupt the status quo by force."

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the "One China" policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in defiance of Beijing.

The United States, which backs Taipei's secessionist president, also continues to sell weapons to the island in violation of its own stated policy.

The US-China relations have grown increasingly tense in recent years, with the world's two largest economies clashing over a range of issues, including trade, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, military activities in the South China Sea, and the origins of the coronavirus.

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