The United States President, Joe Biden, has said that the US military would intervene in Taiwan to defend it in attack from China, rejecting forceful takeover of any territory.
The comment by Biden appeared to be a departure from the longstanding US policy of strategic or deliberate ambiguity before there was some form of clarification or reversal by White House officials.
According to Bloomberg, this was disclosed by Biden during a press briefing on Monday in Tokyo, Japan, where he said that China had no right to seize an island by force.
What the US President is saying
When asked during the press briefing if the United States would be willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan after not doing so in Ukraine, Biden said “yes — it’s a commitment we made.”
The US President said, “We agree with the One China policy, we signed onto it and all the attendant agreements made from there,” Biden added. “But the idea that — that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not — it’s just not appropriate. It will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.
“It’s a burden that’s even stronger.’’
He said that the United States remains committed to supporting the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and ensuring that there is no unilateral change to that status quo.
White House Officials clarify statement
Earlier in the briefing, Biden had said that US policy toward Taiwan “has not changed at all.” A White House spokeswoman repeated that comment after Biden’s remarks, saying the president reiterated the US’ “One China Policy” and its commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.
However, the White House officials later said that Biden simply meant the US would provide military equipment to Taiwan, not send troops to defend the island if China attacks, which would constitute a landmark shift in policy.
Tension builds up as China issues stern warning
The statement by Biden has angered China, which has warned the United States repeatedly over its increased support for Taiwan.
- A Spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, on Monday said China deplored Biden’s comments and said the US should refrain from sending the wrong message “to avoid causing grave damage to bilateral relations.”
- Wang said, “On issues bearing on China’s core interests, including its sovereignty and territorial integrity, there is no room for compromise or concession.’
- Beijing’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, had last week also warned the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
- He said, “If the US side insists on playing the Taiwan card and goes further and further down the wrong road, it will certainly lead to a dangerous situation.’’
What you should know
- The Chinese ambassador to Washington had earlier in January warned that the US and China could end up at war over Taiwan, in stark comments illustrating the rising tensions between the powers over the fate of the island.
- He warned of a military conflict between the two world powers if the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence.
- Since taking office, Biden has repeatedly used language about Taiwan that appeared to alter policy in place since around the time the US switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing. Last year, Biden or his aides needed to clarify his remarks on Taiwan on at least 4 separate occasions, including his description of the island as “independent” — China’s oft-stated red line for an invasion.