The Chinese leader’s message in San Francisco got the attention of U.S. officials because it was delivered at a meeting that was intended to reduce tensions.
WASHINGTON — Chinese President Xi Jinping bluntly told President Joe Biden during their recent summit in San Francisco that Beijing will reunify Taiwan with mainland China but that the timing has not yet been decided, according to three current and former U.S. officials.
Xi told Biden in a group meeting attended by a dozen American and Chinese officials that China’s preference is to take Taiwan peacefully, not by force, the officials said.
The Chinese leader also referenced public predictions by U.S. military leaders who say that Xi plans to take Taiwan in 2025 or 2027, telling Biden that they were wrong because he has not set a time frame, according to the two current and one former official briefed on the meeting.
Chinese officials also asked in advance of the summit that Biden make a public statement after the meeting saying that the United States supports China’s goal of peaceful unification with Taiwan and does not support Taiwanese independence, they said. The White House rejected the Chinese request.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council declined to comment.
The revelations provide previously unreported details about a critical meeting between the two leaders that was intended to reduce tensions between their countries.
Xi’s private warning to Biden, while not markedly different from his past public comments on reunifying Taiwan, got the attention of U.S. officials because it was delivered at a time when China’s behavior toward Taiwan is seen as increasingly aggressive and ahead of a potentially pivotal presidential election in the self-governing democratic island next month.