Joe Biden Xi Jinping SPLIT 0210
Biden and Xi agree to hold virtual meeting amid tensions (October 2021)
03:50 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern over China’s continued pressure against Taiwan in a phone call with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday, as the two countries prepare for a highly anticipated virtual summit between their leaders.

“The Secretary emphasized longstanding U.S. interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and expressed concern regarding the PRC’s continued military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan,” a State Department readout of the phone call said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

“He urged Beijing to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve cross-Strait issues peacefully and in a manner consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” it said.

In the phone call, Bliken and Wang also discussed preparations for US President Joe Biden’s virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The meeting, scheduled for Monday evening Washington time and Tuesday morning in Beijing, is the first between the two leaders since Biden took office in January.

“The meeting presents an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss how to responsibly manage competition between the United States and the PRC while working together in areas where interests align,” the State Department readout said.

Blinken also stressed the importance of taking measures to ensure global energy supply and price volatility do not imperil global economic recovery, according to the statement.

Wang, meanwhile, urged the US to “clearly and resolutely oppose any ‘Taiwan independence’ moves,” according to a statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“Any connivance of and support for the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces undermines peace across the Taiwan Strait and would only boomerang in the end,” the statement quoted Wang as saying.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei are at their lowest point in decades, marked by fiery rhetoric and military posturing. Last month, China’s military sent a record number of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, further escalating military tensions.

Beijing, which sees the self-governing democracy as a breakaway province, has blamed the rising tensions on what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.

On the upcoming Biden-Xi summit, Wang stressed its “great significance” for not just US-China relations, but also international relations.

“The two sides should work in the same direction and make every preparation to ensure a smooth and successful meeting and bring bilateral relations back onto the track of sound and steady development,” he was quoted as saying.

The talks come amid heightened tensions over Taiwan, trade and human rights. At the same time, the US and China unveiled a surprise pact last week on climate, underscoring some areas of cooperation.

The meeting also comes days after Xi further cemented his power at a key meeting of China’s ruling Communist Party elite, overseeing the passing of a landmark resolution that paves the way for him to secure a third term in office.

Biden had once hoped for an in-person summit with Xi, but the Chinese leader hasn’t left China in nearly two years.

The meeting will be Biden’s first with Xi since he became President in January, and it comes as Xi hinted at a slight warming of relations with the US, according to a statement published on the website of the Chinese Embassy to the US on Tuesday. In the letter, Xi said China is willing to “enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board” with the US and bring relations between the two world powers back on the right track.

The last time Biden and Xi spoke was in September, in a phone call that lasted roughly 90 minutes.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.