Biden Ready to Defend Taiwan; China Not Happy

President says US would defend Taiwan with force if there were ever an attack against it
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2022 7:31 AM CDT
Biden: Yes, the US Would Defend Taiwan With Force
President Biden speaks during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace on Monday in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – The United States is on board with the "one China" policy—meaning that, in regard to Taiwan, it acknowledges formal ties to China instead. But the American government doesn't endorse China's views that it effectively owns Taiwan, and the US enjoys a "robust" unofficial relationship with the breakaway island, and so it would use force to defend Taiwan if it had to, according to comments made by President Biden on Monday. CNN reports Biden's remarks came during a joint press conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after the US president was asked if the US would come to Taiwan's defense if it were ever attacked.

"Yes. That's the commitment we made," Biden said. "We agree with the 'one China' policy. We signed on to it," but in terms of China possibly trying to take Taiwan against its will, it's "[just not] appropriate." Biden added, however, he didn't see such an attempt at "reunification," as China puts it, happening anytime soon. CNBC notes Biden's comments seemed at odds with DC's longtime "strategic ambiguity" on Taiwan, meaning it has been purposely fuzzy on what exactly, if anything, the US would do if China ever invaded the territory. After the news conference, a White House official tried to clarify the president's comments, reaffirming the US' adherence to the "one China" policy and "our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

The official noted that Biden's comments on defending Taiwan referred to the US' commitment to 1979's Taiwan Relations Act, which simply means the US would help shore up Taiwan's ability to defend itself—not necessarily stage a military intervention. The Wall Street Journal notes Biden has appeared to shift on the US' stance twice before, in August and October, only to have aides similarly walk his remarks back. At any rate, Taiwan is now expressing its gratitude, while China is slamming Biden's words. A spokeswoman from Taiwan's Foreign Ministry thanked the US for its "rock-solid" commitment, while a spokesman for China's counterpart agency expressed "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition," per CNN, noting that "on issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for compromise." (Read more Taiwan stories.)

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