U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping managed largely to steer clear of escalatory rhetoric on Taiwan in a Thursday call, suggesting that neither side – preoccupied with economic woes at home – wants a fresh crisis across the Taiwan Strait.
Xi’s warning to Biden against “playing with fire” over Taiwan, though vivid, largely mirrored his remarks from the two leaders’ video meeting in November.
“My sense is the two leaders talking directly probably lowered the temperature somewhat relative to what it would have been without the meeting,” said Jacob Stokes, an Indo-Pacific security fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
“But the structural drivers of tension in the bilateral relationship remain, as does the prospect of a visit by Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan,” he said.
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