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Wang Yi and Blinken Speak by Phone from Two Different Universes

Early this morning in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke by phone with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss matters of strategic importance, including the U.S.-China relationship, the Israeli-Palestine war, and the matter of Taiwan. According to the State Department readout of the call, it was rather ho-hum—the two discussed Blinken’s recent travels to the Mideast, U.S. efforts to prevent a wider conflict, efforts to protect maritime security from Houthi attacks, and build on the positive effects of the Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco to ensure continued good bilateral communications. Blinken made no mention of a ceasefire for Gaza.

From the Chinese side, the picture was starkly different. As TASS reports, Wang Yi straightforwardly told Blinken that Washington must cease supporting separatist forces in Taiwan that call for its “independence,” and refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs. That means stop supporting forces that seek Taiwan’s independence “or from conniving with [such separatist forces].” TASS points out that last week, Chen Binhua, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, warned that “independence for Taiwan” would mean war. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin reiterated that point on Dec. 5, responding to a question about Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic People’s Party during the daily press briefing. He stressed “This is not a question on foreign affairs. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The election in the Taiwan region is purely China’s internal affair,” and repeated Chen’s warning that “Taiwan independence means war” and “Taiwan independence is a dead end.”

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