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Biden holds fifth call with China’s Xi, looking to tamp down Taiwan tension

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WASHINGTON, July 28 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping held a fifth call as leaders on Thursday, speaking for more than two hours, as concerns mounted over a possible visit to Chinese-claimed Taiwan by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The White House said the call began at 8:33 a.m. (1233 GMT) and ended at 10:50 a.m. (1450 GMT). U.S. officials had said it would have a broad agenda, including discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which China has yet to condemn.

At its core, U.S. officials see the exchange 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.

Beijing has issued escalating warnings about repercussions should Pelosi visit Taiwan, a move that would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for the island, which says it is facing increasing Chinese military and economic threats.

Washington does not have official relations with Taiwan and follows a “one-China” policy that recognizes Beijing, not Taipei, diplomatically. But it is obliged by U.S. law to provide the island with the means to defend itself, and pressure has been mounting in Congress for more explicit support.

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