China warned the U.S. that President Biden’s visit to East Asia this week could put their relations in “serious jeopardy” if officials play the “Taiwan card” during the trip.
In a phone call with national security adviser Jake Sullivan, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi warned the U.S. against speaking out on the independent sovereignty of Taiwan, a self-ruling democratic island in the Indo-Pacific that China claims is historically part of the mainland and should be under Beijing’s control.
“If the U.S. side persists in playing the ‘Taiwan card’ and goes further down the wrong path, it will surely put the situation in serious jeopardy,” Jiechi said, according to a readout. “We urge the U.S. side to get a clear understanding of the situation, strictly honor its commitments and abide by the one-China principle.”
Jiechi further added that China would react accordingly to any move that “undermines the fundamental and long-term interests of countries in the region.”
“The Chinese side will take firm actions to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. We live up to our words,” he said.
Biden’s trip to East Asia starts on Friday when he visits South Korea to meet the country’s newly elected president. Then the president plans to travel to Japan, India and Australia to meet with a joint security partnership called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
China and the U.S. have sparred over the independence of Taiwan. The U.S. does not publicly support the nation’s independence, instead choosing to respect China’s position, but it has grown increasingly warmer to Taiwan.
Last year, the U.S. invited Taiwan to a democracy summit, which Beijing slammed as the U.S. advancing its own “geopolitical objectives.”
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s increasingly hostile stance on Taiwan — and fears of a potential invasion of the island nation — has come into larger focus.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, when asked if Biden would send a cautionary message to China, Sullivan said the U.S. was putting out an “affirmative vision of what the world can look like if the democracies and open societies of the world stand together.”
“We think that message will be heard everywhere, we think it will be heard in Beijing,” Sullivan said.
On Thursday, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that Biden and the U.S. “must abide by the one-China principle” and their public position of not supporting Taiwan’s position.
“Such moves have harmed the China-US relations and undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Liijan said, according to a readout.