China’s Xi Expected To Prioritize Taiwan Issue In Biden Discussion

In their first virtual meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to warn U.S. President Joe Biden about “stepping back” on the Taiwan issue. China will likely show its interest in reunification with Taiwan and possibly take measures in the future to achieve it. The U.S. and Taiwan share an unofficial relationship with close cooperation. The U.S. provides aid to maintain Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities. The rising tensions between China and Taiwan are likely to be a priority for the U.S. as officials look to maintain peace across the Strait.

In a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi warned Washington against sending the wrong signals to Taiwan pro-independence forces. An action like this may trigger a strain on relations between the U.S. and China. However, it puts the U.S. in a tight spot in maintaining its partnership with Taiwan. An editorial by Global Times wrote that “[T]he Taiwan question is the ultimate red line of China.” China has continuously viewed the nation as a breakaway providence that it will someday day reclaim.

China has vowed to retake Taiwan, even if it requires force, meanwhile Taiwan argues that they remain a sovereign state. Tensions are rising as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her party favor independence. In addition, Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on Taipei. This raises concerns as a possible conflict could break out between the two bodies. leaving the U.S. in the middle. Taiwan has its own democratically elected government and 23 million civilians; it is questionable as to why China is still pushing to regain this territory after so many years.

In 1949, The Republic of China (ROC) government relocated to Taiwan while in conflict with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This group has dominated Taiwanese politics and exercised jurisdiction over the island as well as surrounding islands, leaving Taiwan and China with different governments. Relations between both nations began improving in the 1980s under “one country, two systems,” in which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification. While this offer was rejected, it helped to relax some rules. However, tensions have escalated since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016.

Recently, Beijing has taken increasingly aggressive actions as they fly fighter jets around Taiwan. Looking ahead, further aggressive actions are likely as China emphasizes the Taiwan issue in its agenda. Some analysts fear a Chinese attack on Taiwan has the potential to draw the U.S. into a war with China. However, it is also likely that China does not want to engage in such a conflict as it would disrupt its modernization and would not want to face the U.S. It will be important to monitor the situation in case China takes further action, and it will be interesting to see how the U.S. chooses to respond and help its supposed ally.