President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a lengthy and candid discussion about Taiwan on Thursday as tensions mount between Washington and Beijing, despite Biden’s onetime hope of stabilizing the world’s most important country-to-country relationship.
The two leaders did agree to begin arrangements for a face-to-face summit, their first as Xi resists travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic. And certain areas of cooperation, including climate change, were hashed out.
But the Taiwan issue proved among the most contentious. The issue has emerged as a serious point of conflict, as US officials fear a more imminent Chinese move on the self-governing island and as a potential visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prompts warnings from Beijing and a concerted effort by the Biden administration to prevent tensions from spiraling out of control.