Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to oppose nuclear war, but said the issue of Taiwan was a “red line,” in a rare face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden on Monday.
The leaders agreed that “a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won,” and especially objected to Russian threats to use the weapons in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to a White House press release.
Biden was the one to bring up “Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine” and its “irresponsible threats of nuclear use,” according to the press release.
Nuclear rhetoric peaked in recent weeks, prompting Biden to warn of a potential “Armageddon” stemming from Russia’s invasion, now nearly in its ninth month. China has been quiet on the Ukraine invasion, but Xi also recently assured the German chancellor he is not for nuclear saber-rattling, as reported by Fortune.
Biden and Xi held the nearly three-hour meeting during the annual summit of Group of Twenty nations in Bali, Indonesia. Biden recently claimed to have “spent more time with Xi” than any world leader, but the two had not met in-person as their nations’ top leaders until Monday morning.
The two leaders also discussed the island nation of Taiwan, a key flashpoint in China’s relationship with the U.S. and its allies. Recent weeks have seen escalating suggestions that China is preparing to act on its longstanding claim over the capitalist island about 100 miles from its coast.
Xi called Taiwan a “red line that cannot be crossed in the China-U.S. relationship,” adding that it is “the core of China’s core interests,” according to the New York Times.
Biden criticized what he called China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan.” He said the U.S. “opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side” and that “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” are in the world’s best interests.