US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, began Thursday with a much-anticipated telephone call expected to address a series of issues straining US-Sino relations.
The call is the fifth between the leaders since Biden assumed office in January 2021 and comes amid exceptionally strained relations regarding Taiwan, the self-governing island China views as a breakaway province and which it has vowed to reunify, by force if necessary.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is widely expected to visit the island amid escalating tensions and China has warned it will impose unspecified “serious consequences” if she does. But Pelosi would not be the first House speaker to visit Taiwan. Newt Gingrich did it in 1997.
Other members of Congress may accompany Pelosi on her potential trip, which is being billed as a display of support for Taipei.
Aside from Taiwan, Biden is expected to address China’s actions in the wider Indo-Pacific region, disputes in the US-Sino economic relationship, including US tariffs and the war in Ukraine, according to the White House.
“This is about keeping the lines of communication open with the President of China — one of the most consequential bilateral relationships that we have not just in that region, but around the world, because it touches so much,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.