Xi gives Biden fiery warning on Taiwan during call

STORY: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday warned U.S. President Joe Biden against "playing with fire" over Taiwan, as Beijing's concerns mounted over a possible visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Chinese-claimed island.

In a phone call that lasted over two hours, Chinese state media said Xi told Biden that the United States should abide by the "one-China principle" and stressed that China firmly opposed Taiwanese independence and interference of external forces.

Chinese state media, quoted Xi as telling Biden, “Those who play with fire will only get burnt…(We) hope the U.S. side can see this clearly.”

According to a White House statement, Biden told Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing has issued escalating warnings about repercussions should Pelosi - a Democrat like Biden - visit Taiwan, which says it is facing increasing Chinese military and economic threats.

A visit by the House speaker would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for the island.

The last time a speaker of the U.S. House visited Taiwan was in 1997, and as a co-equal branch of government, the U.S. executive has little control over congressional travel.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing Thursday that Biden brought up genocide to Xi as well.

"He raised genocide and forced labor practices by the PRC. That is something that he raised. About the human rights. As he always does. This is, as we've said, that any time the president has an opportunity, he raises that when he meets with another leader and called on PRC to cease its ongoing human rights abuses across China."

The White House readout said the two leaders also discussed a range of other issues, including climate change and health security.

U.S. officials said they saw the fifth call between Biden and Xi as another chance to manage competition between the world's two largest economies, whose ties have been increasingly clouded by tensions over democratically governed Taiwan, which Xi has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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