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Xi claimed US tried to provoke Beijing into Taiwan attack – FT

The Chinese president is reportedly wary of a clash with Washington, as it would ruin his plans for the nation’s “great rejuvenation”

Xi Jinping has said that the US tried to provoke the Chinese military into attacking Taiwan but that Beijing did not take the bait, the Financial Times reported on Saturday, citing sources.

According to people familiar with the matter cited by the paper, Xi made the remarks during a private meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in April 2023. The Chinese president also reportedly relayed concerns about Washington’s alleged attempts to trick Beijing into invading the self-governed island to his officials.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be sovereign Chinese territory under its One-China policy. The island has been self-governing since 1949 when nationalists fled the mainland with US help after losing the Chinese Civil War to the communists.

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Financial Times described Xi’s reported remarks to von der Leyen as the first known time he told a foreign leader that the US was trying to goad Beijing into invading Taiwan. The Chinese president also reportedly explained that a conflict with the US would be detrimental to China and derail its plans for a “great rejuvenation” by 2049. The project, also known as the ‘Chinese Dream’, aims at creating a “modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, and harmonious.”

China has long accused the US of fomenting tensions over Taiwan and has denounced Washington’s arms sales to Taipei. Beijing has also protested visits by top US officials to the island, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claiming it violates China’s sovereignty. Against this backdrop, China regularly conducts military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

In 2022, Xi said that while Beijing seeks peaceful reunification with the island, it is “not committed to abandoning the use of force” to accomplish that goal. In March, the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral John Aquilino, suggested that the Chinese military would be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027. Officials in Beijing have denied having any near-term plans to use force against the island, accusing the US of “hyping up the China-threat narrative.”

US President Joe Biden has said that Washington would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China, although he later conceded that the exact response would “depend on the circumstances.”

June 16, 2024 at 01:54PM

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