President Joe Biden will speak Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a White House official tells CNN, as tensions between the two countries rise amid reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering a visit to Taiwan.
The expected call comes as national security officials are quietly working to convince Pelosi of the risks her potential trip could pose during a highly sensitive moment between the self-governing island and China. Sources familiar with the speaker’s plans say she is planning to visit in the coming weeks as part of a broader trip to Asia and has invited both Democrats and Republicans to accompany her. If she goes, she would be the first House speaker to visit in a quarter century.
Bloomberg was first to report on Biden’s Thursday call with Xi.
Biden acknowledged he planned to speak with the Chinese President during virtual remarks calling for passage of the bipartisan CHIPs Act Monday, telling reporters, “That’s my expectation, but I’ll let you know when that gets set up. I promise I’ll let you know.”
Pelosi’s possible trip is highlighting the concerns within the Biden administration over China’s designs on Taiwan as Beijing has stepped up its rhetoric and aggressive actions toward the island in recent months, including sending warplanes into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone several times. US officials have expressed concern that those moves could be precursors to even more aggressive steps by China in the coming months meant to assert its authority over the island.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has only intensified those worries, as Biden and other top officials nervously watch to see what lessons China may be taking from the Western response to Moscow’s aggression.
Xi, meanwhile, is believed to be laying the groundwork for an unprecedented third term as president in the fall, contributing to the tense geopolitics in the region.
Biden’s call with Xi was in the works before Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan became public, officials previously noted.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.