In a surprisingly longish phone call at over two hours, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden focused on the geopolitical flashpoints of Taiwan and Ukraine on Thursday, speaking by phone for the fifth time. Both sides agreed the call was "candid" and "in-depth", and concluded by agreeing to stay in touch. However, China state sources are reporting that - in a moment perhaps intent on humiliating the US administration - Xi warned Biden "those who play with fire will get burned."
Bloomberg cited Xi as saying, based on early Chinese state media reports, that "China firmly opposes separatist moves toward Taiwan independence and interference by external forces, and never allows any room for Taiwan independence forces in whatever form." As usual, Biden was urged to stick by the one-China policy, with the US president reiterating that the US intends to.
In the face of Xi's firm words on the Taiwan issue, Biden affirmed that the United States does not back Taiwan independence.
Not only did Xi again lay down China's 'red lines' on Taiwan, but the Chinese leader stressed Beijing vehemently opposes the "intervention of other powers," according to quotes in China state media.
The warning comes just hours after the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear-powered 'super carrier' has entered waters of the South China Sea, triggering PLA snap military drills in the area in response. After multiple US Navy sail-throughs of both the Taiwan Strait and near the Paracel islands this summer, Beijing has ramped up its rhetoric threatening a "forceful response" - particularly if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi follows through with her trip to Taipei next month.
Axios writes of the context to Thursday's call, "The Chinese government has repeatedly vowed to take control of the island, by force if necessary, and it reacts furiously to any gesture that seems to treat Taiwan as an independent state." And further, "There was also speculation ahead of the call about the potential easing of U.S. tariffs on China, though the White House dampened any expectation that major announcements would result from this conversation."
From Beijing's point of view Xi put Biden on notice over all these recent US maneuvers, saying in essence I'm the captain now...