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Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in San Francisco in November


Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Joe Biden during their November summit in San Francisco that Beijing would annex Taiwan to mainland China, but that the timing had not yet been determined. The American channel »NBC News« exclusively reports this with reference to three current and former US government officials.

Xi told Biden at a group meeting attended by a dozen American and Chinese civil servants that China prefers to take over Taiwan peacefully rather than by force, according to the sources to NBC News.

Ahead of the summit, Chinese officials had requested that Biden make a public statement after the meeting that the U.S. supports China's goal of peaceful unification with Taiwan and does not support Taiwanese independence. The White House rejected the Chinese request.

Xi apparently blunt and open with Biden

The revelations to NBC News contain previously unknown details about a meeting between the two leaders that was intended to ease tensions between their countries.

Officials familiar with the conversation between Biden and Xi described the Chinese leader as blunt and outspoken, but not confrontational, according to NBC. His language was no different than usual. When it comes to Taiwan, he's always tough. He's always taken a hard line," said a U.S. official briefed on the conversation.

Xi's saber-rattling over Taiwan is a major concern of the Biden administration, which is trying to avoid a military conflict with China.

At the Chinese Communist Party Congress last year, Xi publicly stated that China would attack Taiwan militarily if it declared independence with foreign support.

Taiwan, which is separated from China only by a strait, has had a democratic government for decades. However, China considers Taiwan, with its more than 23 million inhabitants, to be part of its territory. The area is repeatedly the scene of military demonstrations of power.