Chinese President Xi Jinping recently told President Joe Biden that Communist Beijing will reunify Taiwan with mainland China at an unspecified time, according to NBC News.
NBC News cited former and current U.S. officials who said Xi informed the president of China’s plans during their meeting on November 15 in San Francisco.
Xi told President Biden that China’s preference is to take Taiwan over peacefully and not have to use force, officials told NBC News.
“His language was no different than what he has always said. He is always tough on Taiwan. He’s always had a tough line,” said one official.
Around a dozen Chinese and American officials also attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit group meeting.
Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary, told CNBC on November 20 that Xi and Biden remained far apart on the status of Taiwan.
“President Xi did express the view that Taiwan and mainland China need to unify. He certainly expressed the desire to have that occur by peaceful means,” said Yellen on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “But President Biden said our policy remains unchanged from what it’s always been with respect to Taiwan.”
During the meeting, Xi also denied China’s plans to take Taiwan in 2025 or 2027, as some American military leaders predicted.
Xi said there was no time frame set, reported NBC News on Wednesday.
China requested President Biden make a pre-summit public statement supporting China
The news outlet added that officials from China requested, and were then rejected, for President Joe Biden to make a pre-summit public statement that the United States supports China’s goal of peacefully unifying with Taiwan.
The news of Xi’s message to Biden comes while Taiwan prepares for parliamentary and presidential elections on January 13.
China has continued to ramp up military pressure to assert its claims over Taiwan, including two significant war games over the past two years.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan has appealed to voters to remember what had happened to Chinese-controlled Hong Kong.
“I want to ask you all here: does anyone want war? Nobody does,” said the Taiwanese president on December 3. “Look at Hong Kong and think of Taiwan. We don’t want Hong Kong-style peace. We want dignified peace.”
Hong Kong is a former British colony that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise of broad autonomy under a “one country, two systems” framework, which China has also offered to Taiwan — with little support from island citizens.
Speaking at last year’s Chinese Communist Party Congress, Xi said China would attack Taiwan militarily if it declared independence with foreign support.
If Taiwan does not declare independence, attacking Taiwan is unlikely, according to some experts, because a military conflict is likely to prevent mainland China from reaching its economic goal of doubling its economy’s size by 2035.