FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

China’s head of state Xi Jinping has again warned US President Joe Biden not to further escalate tensions over Taiwan, according to Chinese state media. “Those who play with fire will eventually get burned,” Xi said at a “frank and in-depth” virtual meeting with his US counterpart, according to the official Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

“I hope the US side gets that right.” Biden stressed that nothing had changed in the US position on the Taiwan issue.

The video summit was the fifth meeting between the two presidents since Biden took office a year and a half ago. Irrespective of this, mistrust between the two countries has deepened: in addition to the extremely difficult trade relations, the dispute over Taiwan’s status is also playing an increasingly important role.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that is to be reunited with the mainland – if necessary using military force. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has recently fueled fears that Beijing could use a similar approach when dealing with Taiwan.

At a video summit with Xi in November, Biden warned against “unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Formosa Strait.”

As a reaction, he had already warned the USA against “playing with fire”. On Thursday, the White House reiterated its opposition to “unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Formosa Strait.”

The reason for the recent tensions is a possible visit to Taiwan by Democrat Nancy Pelosi: As Chair of the US House of Representatives, Pelosi holds the third-highest office in the US and is likely to travel to Taiwan in a military plane. Beijing regards such a visit as a provocation.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry had already confirmed Beijing’s “strict” rejection on Wednesday. Pelosi herself has not yet confirmed reports of her Taiwan plans.

Biden cites his close relationship with Xi, which has existed for years. However, since he took office, the two presidents have not met in person, which is in large part due to the Corona travel restrictions.

According to the White House, Biden’s primary goal is to erect “guard rails” in the US-China relationship. According to the spokesman for the National Security Council, John Kirby, they are intended to ensure that both sides “can talk to each other” on all issues, including controversial ones.