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The Taiwan question is becoming the biggest risk in Sino-US relations, China has said. (file)

New York:

Top US and Chinese diplomats met in New York on Friday as rising tensions showed signs of easing, but Beijing issued a fresh warning against supporting Taiwan.

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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are set to meet on the sidelines of the annual UN summit, their first face-to-face since wide-ranging talks in Bali in July where both sides appeared hopeful of more stability.

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A month later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, angering Beijing, in what was seen as a test run for the self-governing democracy’s invasion.

In an interview that aired Sunday, President Joe Biden said he was prepared to intervene militarily if China deviated again from decades of U.S. ambiguity and used force.

In a sign of smooth relations, Wang said he met with US climate envoy John Kerry in New York despite China’s announcement after Pelosi’s visit that it was Biden’s top priority, hampering cooperation on the issue.

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But in a speech before his talks with Blinken, Wang reiterated anger over US support for Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.

“The Taiwan question is becoming the biggest risk in Sino-US relations. If it is mishandled, it is the most likely to destroy the bilateral relationship,” he told the Asia Society think tank.

“Just as America will not allow Hawaii to be taken away, China has the right to maintain the country’s unification,” he said.

He condemned the US decision to “allow” a visit to Taiwan by Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president. The Biden administration, while privately concerned about his trip, has pointed out that Congress is a separate branch of government.

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Organizing the summit

But Wang was conciliatory to Biden. The New York talks are expected to lay the groundwork for the first meeting between Biden and President Xi Jinping since they became leaders of their two countries, possibly on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic powers summit in Bali in November.

Wang said both Biden and Xi want to “make the Sino-US relationship work” and “move away from conflict and confrontation”.

“However, what has happened is that the US seems to have two different sets of musical scores. The political will of their leaders for a stable bilateral relationship has not yet been translated into rational policy,” he said.

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The US Congress is a stronghold of support for Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and major technological power.

Last week a Senate committee took the first steps to directly deliver billions of dollars in arms to Taiwan to deter China, a ramp up from decades of arms sales requested by Taipei.

Tensions have also risen over human rights with the United States, accusing the communist state of committing genocide against the mostly Muslim Uyghur population.

Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, sees a rising China as the US’s main global competitor and has pledged to reshape US foreign policy around the challenge.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February quickly shifted US focus to Europe but also raised fears that Beijing could make good on years of threats of force against Taiwan.

Yet U.S. officials have also been pleased that China has distanced itself from Russia, nominally its closest ally.

President Vladimir Putin told Xi in a meeting last week that he understood China’s “concern” over Ukraine, while Wang, at a special session of the Security Council on Thursday, stressed the need for an end to the war rather than Russia’s support.

In line with the Biden administration’s focus on allies, Blinken met jointly with his counterparts in Japan and South Korea on Thursday and is expected to hold a meeting of the so-called Quad with Australia, India and Japan just before his talks with Wang.

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(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and appeared on a syndicated feed.)

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