© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the closing session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

BEIJING (Reuters) – According to Chinese media, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Joe Biden on Friday that the Taiwan issue must be handled properly to avoid negative impact on Sino-US relations.

China says Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province that must be brought back by force if necessary, is the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with the United States.

Washington, which seeks Beijing’s help in restoring peace in Ukraine after the Russian invasion of February 24, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei but is Taiwan’s main international lender and arms supplier.

“Some individuals in the United States are sending the wrong signals to pro-independence forces in Taiwan, and that is very dangerous,” Xi told Biden during a video call.

“If the Taiwan issue is not properly addressed, it will have a subversive impact on the relationship between the two countries.”

China sailed its aircraft carrier Shandong through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, in the shadow of a US destroyer, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, just hours before the Chinese and US presidents were due to talk.

A White House statement said Biden reiterated in the call with Xi that US policy toward Taiwan has not changed, stressing that Washington “continues to oppose any unilateral change to the status quo.”

China has been ramping up military activities near the island for the past two years to assert its sovereignty claims.

“(We) hope the US side will pay enough attention” to the issue, Xi told Biden.

The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked Biden for his “emphasis on maintaining the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as well as his strong support for Taiwan’s security”.

He called on China to take concrete measures and condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Taiwan, which rejects China’s claims to sovereignty, has joined the West-led sanctions against Russia and has sent humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees.

Xi also told Biden that the war in Ukraine must end as soon as possible, according to Chinese state media.

All sides should jointly support the dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, while the United States and NATO should also talk to Russia to resolve the “crux” of the Ukraine crisis, Xi said.

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