The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

Biden urges Xi not to allow competition to ‘veer into conflict’.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held extensive talks about Taiwan in a virtual meeting on Monday but failed to establish any “guardrails” to ensure that tensions over the island do not escalate into a dangerous conflict.

The US president opened the three-hour meeting by telling his Chinese counterpart that they had to ensure competition between the powers did “not veer into conflict”. But they did not reach agreement or find any way to ease tensions over Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.

“On Taiwan, there was sort of nothing new established in the form of guardrails or any other understandings,” a senior US official said. “The president was very clear in reaffirming very longstanding US policy and raising very clear concerns, but the idea of establishing specific guardrails with respect to Taiwan was not part of the conversation.”

Taiwan has evolved into a flashpoint as China increasingly flies fighter jets and bombers into its air defence identification zone.

China has suggested that Mr Biden was weakening the “one-China” policy, under which the US has recognised Beijing as the sole seat of government since the countries normalised relations in 1979. Mr Biden has made policy changes that have made it easier for US officials to engage with Taiwanese counterparts.

Mr Xi warned Mr Biden that advocates of Taiwan independence and anyone supporting them were “playing with fire” and would “burn themselves”, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. He added that China would have to take “decisive measures” if anyone crossed its “red lines” on Taiwan, and pressed Mr Biden to make sure he did not weaken the “one China” policy.

Mr Biden said last month that the US would defend Taiwan from any Chinese attack. The comments contradicted the longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity”, under which Washington refrained from detailing how it would respond to a Chinese attack. The policy is also intended to give China pause about military action.

The White House rolled back Mr Biden’s comments at the time. On Monday, it said Mr Biden told Mr Xi that he supports “one-China” and “opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo”.

US-China relations

Aside from Taiwan, the two leaders appeared to agree on the need to ensure that US-China relations, which have fallen to their lowest level in decades, did not spiral further downwards or towards conflict.

“None of this is a favour to either of our countries . . . it’s just responsible world leadership,” Mr Biden told Mr Xi in his opening remarks in front of the media.

The Chinese president told Mr Biden that the two sides needed to “manage differences and sensitive issues in a constructive way to prevent Sino-US relations from derailing”, according to Xinhua. He compared the two countries to two large ships that needed “stable rudders” to avoid a collision.

The White House said Mr Biden had raised concerns about Chinese policy in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and on human rights more broadly.

The US had hoped that China would discuss nuclear issues amid concerns in the US over the country’s rising capability. Beijing tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon in July and the Pentagon last week said the Chinese military would quadruple its nuclear stockpile to more than 1,000 warheads by 2030.

China had shown no interest in nuclear “strategic stability” talks. The senior US official said the leaders did discuss “strategic risk” and the importance of having further conversations but did not elaborate.

The virtual meeting followed two telephone calls between the leaders this year. Mr Biden wanted to hold an in-person summit but Mr Xi has not left China for almost two years because of the pandemic.

Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official now at the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, said both sides had “very modest expectations” for the meeting and that the goal was “to stabilise the relationship and manage the competition, not necessarily fix big problems”.

The US official said Mr Biden and Mr Xi had a “healthy debate” on many issues but that the White House had not expected the meeting to produce a fundamental shift in relations.

“We were not expecting a breakthrough, there was none to report,” the person said, adding that the meeting was about ensuring that the US and China “have sort of a steady state of affairs”. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

Facebook Messenger has new bill-splitting feature

Facebook Messenger has new bill-splitting feature

"Split Payments" allows users to pay expenses they share with others.

Trump ally to challenge Republican governor of Georgia.

Trump ally to challenge Republican governor of Georgia.

Former Senator David Perdue is set to challenge Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp after President Trump harshly criticized Kemp for not overturning President Biden’s election win in Georgia. #CNN #News

Migrant crisis: Is the EU ignoring human suffering? - DW News.

Migrant crisis: Is the EU ignoring human suffering? - DW News.

Pope Francis has harshly criticized Europe for what he says is the exploitation of migrants for political purposes. The Pontiff was speaking during his visit to a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. The island is a main entry point for mig...

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denies existence of smash-and-grab robberies amid crime surge.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denies existence of smash-and-grab robberies amid crime surge.

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind joined 'Fox & Friends First' to discuss AOC's denial, calling her a 'danger.' #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour ...

6 2065

Horror as fireworks EXPLODE at children’s Christmas show #Shorts.

Horror as fireworks EXPLODE at children’s Christmas show #Shorts.

#Shorts THIS is the moment a school's Christmas performance went very wrong as fireworks suddenly exploded sending children fleeing for the lives. Kids and grown ups were left screaming as the unplanned pyrotechnic displayed erupted in a storm of ...

Columnist argues media treats Biden as bad as Trump.

Columnist argues media treats Biden as bad as Trump.

CNN's Brianna Keilar speaks with The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank about his recent op-ed, where he writes that overall US media sentiment for President Joe Biden is as bad - if not worse - than it was for then-President Donald Trump. #CN...