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Xi to Biden: Taipei issue China’s ‘first red line’ which must not be crossed

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his American counterpart Joe Biden shake hands at a hotel in Bali, Indonesia, November 14, 2022, ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) Summit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told his US counterpart Joe Biden the issue of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) is China’s “first red line” in bilateral relations, warning that Washington must not cross this line.

Xi and Biden held their first in-person meeting as presidents ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday, when the Chinese leader told the US president the Taiwan question was the "very core of China's core interests."

Xi also urged Biden to translate into concrete action Washington’s commitments made to Beijing regarding the self-ruled island.

"The Taiwan question is at the very core of China's core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations," Xi was quoted as saying in a readout published by China's official Xinhua news agency.

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the 'One China' policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty, meaning they would not establish direct diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Taipei.

Chinese Taipei's secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen has independence aspirations and views the island as a sovereign state, rejecting the 'One China' principle. The US, though professing adherence to the principle, has long courted Taipei and sells weapons to the self-governed island in an attempted affront to Beijing.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Xi told Biden that the world was big enough for both China and the United States to prosper and compete.

"Under the current circumstances, China and the United States share more, not less, common interests," Xi said during three hours of talks in Bali. Beijing does not seek to challenge the US or "change the existing international order," he said.

The Chinese leader called for the two sides to "respect each other."

Xi also touched on the issue of the war between Russia and Ukraine, saying Beijing was "deeply concerned" about the months-long conflict. "China has all along stood on the side of peace and will continue to encourage peace talks," the Chinese president said. "We support and look forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine."

Relations between China and the US have been cold in recent years over a host of issues, including technology, security, Chinese Taipei, and human rights. Most recently, the US bristled at China's reaction to the war in Ukraine, which Washington says is not strong enough. Beijing has called for an end to the fighting multiple times.

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