The warning issued this Thursday by the Chinese president, Xi Jinpingto his American counterpart, Joe Bidenthat “those who play with fire will end up burning” is the most recent example of the tensions that both countries face, due to issues ranging from Taiwan to Covid-19 and to the rules of the commercial game.
Xi’s statements are a response to the possible trip of the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosito Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory and wants to recover, if necessary by force. For China, a trip by the congresswoman represents direct support for the island’s independence intentions.
Biden assured Xi that the US position “has not changed” on Taiwan; in other words, that Washington “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
However, just last May, Biden stated that his government would defend Taiwan if China decided on a annexation by force of territory. He even threatened military intervention.
“Yes. That is the commitment we made,” she said during a visit to Japan. “The United States has pledged to support the ‘one China’ position, but that does not mean that China has the jurisdiction to use force to take Taiwan.” Xi Jinping’s government, the US president continued, “is flirting with danger.”
China, for its part, has said there will be “serious consequences” if Pelosi, an outspoken critic of Beijing, does visit Taiwan.
“If the US side insists on going ahead, the Chinese military will never sit idly by and take strong action to thwart any outside interference and separatist attempts for ‘Taiwan independence,'” Colonel Tan Kefei told the China Daily.
Another issue that has confronted the United States and China is the Russian war in Ukraine.
“I’m not going to sit here publicly and make threats,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said during a high-level meeting in March with Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top diplomat, that lasted seven hours. .
“We are directly and privately communicating to Beijing that there will definitely be consequences if they help Russia. We will not allow that to continue.”
Faced with pressure over the Ukraine issue, the Xi government responded that “China will never accept threats or coercion from the United States” and that “if Washington adopts measures against the legitimate interests of Chinese companies or individuals”; Beijing “will not sit idly by”.
In the administration of donald trump clashes were not lacking either. The then US president blamed Beijing directly for the Covid-19 pandemic, and spoke of the possibility of a “punishment”: “We can do it in other ways, we can do it with tariffs, we can do it in another way even beyond that” . He even alluded to atrade war”.
Read also: Can China shoot down Nancy Pelosi’s plane if she goes to Taiwan?
In 2018, in fact, Beijing and Washington embarked on a trade war that led to the mutual imposition of tariffs. “We do not want a trade war with the United States, but we are not afraid of it,” said Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce at the time, saying that “if the United States ignores the rejection of China and the international community and perseveres in unilateralism and trade protectionism, China will defend its interests.”
Hong Kong has also been the cause of friction. At the time, Trump, in response to the security law that China approved for that territory and that prohibits any activity that can be interpreted as sedition, accused China of “breaking its word” to guarantee the autonomy of Hong Kong, announced that From then on, Hong Kong would be treated “the same as mainland China”, without further preferences, and warned that it would closely review Chinese companies listed on the stock market, to “limit US investments in Chinese companies.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded: “In order to safeguard its legitimate interests, China will provide the necessary response and impose sanctions on relevant US individuals and entities.”
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