Beijing wants to reunify Taiwan with China

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a bilateral meeting at Filoli estate on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in Woodside, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

During their recent summit in San Francisco, Chinese President Xi Jinping straightforwardly informed President Joe Biden that Beijing intends to reunify Taiwan with mainland China, stressing that the timing for this reunification has yet to be determined, according to U.S. officials.

In a group meeting attended by a dozen American and Chinese officials, Xi conveyed China’s preference for a peaceful reunification with Taiwan rather than resorting to force. Additionally, Xi disputed public predictions made by U.S. military leaders who speculated on a 2025 or 2027 timeline for the reunification, telling Biden that no specific timeframe had been set.

Ahead of the summit, Chinese officials requested that Biden publicly affirm the U.S. support for China’s objective of peacefully unifying with Taiwan while opposing Taiwanese independence. This request was turned down by the White House. The National Security Council declined to comment on the matter.

The disclosures offer new insights into a crucial meeting between the two leaders aimed at easing tensions between their nations. Xi Jinping’s private warning to Joe Biden, while echoing his previous public statements on Taiwan’s reunification, drew attention from U.S. officials due to its timing amid escalating Chinese actions toward Taiwan and ahead of a potentially significant presidential election on the democratic island.

Officials familiar with the Biden-Xi conversation characterised the Chinese leader as forthright and candid, avoiding a confrontational tone. A U.S. official familiar with the discussion noted that Xi’s language was consistent with his historical stance on Taiwan.

Xi’s stance on Taiwan has been a primary worry for the Biden administration, aiming to avoid a military conflict with China. At a previous Chinese Communist Party Congress, Xi asserted that China would militarily engage if Taiwan declared independence with foreign backing.

During the San Francisco summit, Xi expressed concerns about Taiwan’s presidential candidates, highlighting U.S. influence on the island. When Biden requested respect for Taiwan’s electoral process, Xi emphasized the need to move toward a resolution eventually.

The meeting, secured after months of efforts, aimed to ease tensions following a low point in U.S.-China relations in February. Biden emphasized the need to manage the competitive relationship and avoid conflict.

CIA Director William Burns previously stated that U.S. intelligence indicated Xi’s readiness to invade Taiwan by 2027, emphasising the seriousness of his focus.

While Biden has asserted U.S. military support for Taiwan in case of invasion, the White House has tempered those statements. The longstanding “One China” policy recognizes Beijing as the legal government but maintains unofficial ties with Taiwan.

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