China Will Take Taiwan, Xi Warned Biden During Meeting

Chinese leader Xi Jinping (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
December 20, 2023

Chinese president Xi Jinping reportedly warned President Joe Biden during their summit in San Francisco last month that China will take Taiwan.

Xi bluntly told Biden, in a meeting with Chinese and American officials, that he plans to take Taiwan and reunify it with the mainland, preferably peacefully and not by force, NBC News reported Wednesday, citing two current and one former U.S. official who were briefed on the meeting.

Xi also referenced predictions from American military brass that China would take the island within the next four years, but he said that he had not set a timeline for it. Additionally, he said he had concerns about candidates running in Taiwan's January presidential election.

Peace is "all well and good," Xi reportedly told Biden, but he said there would eventually need to be a resolution to the issue of Taiwan.

Xi's reported comments to Biden are in line with his previous public statements on the issue. He said in October 2022 that he would not renounce his right to use force to take Taiwan but hoped for a "peaceful reunification." He added that the option of using force was directed at foreign actors and a "very small number" of supporters of Taiwanese independence. In a March speech, he called on China to "actively oppose the external forces and secessionist activities of Taiwan independence" and "unswervingly advance the cause of national rejuvenation and reunification." He added in that speech that there was a need to "promote peaceful development of cross-strait relations."

Biden has repeatedly said that the United States would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion. The White House, however, each time has clarified that the comment does not signal a change to the government's "One China" policy, in which the United States recognizes Beijing as China's legal government while maintaining unofficial relations with the island. Biden affirmed the "One China" policy after the meeting with Xi.