UNITED STATES: President of the United States Joe Biden claims that in the case of a Chinese attack, American military would protect Taiwan. This was his most direct statement on the subject, and Beijing was sure to take offense.
In response to a question about whether the American military would defend the democratically run island that China claimed, he said: “Yes, if there was an unprecedented attack.” The interview was shown on CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday.
When asked to clarify if he meant that, unlike in Ukraine, the American military – American men and women – would defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion, “Yes,” Biden retorted.
The interview was simply the most recent instance of Biden appearing to depart from long-standing official U.S. policy on Taiwan. Still, he was more explicit about committing American soldiers to defend the island this time.
Since a long time ago, the U.S. has maintained a position of “strategic ambiguity,” remaining vague about whether it would use military force to defend Taiwan.
When prompted, a White House representative stated that the United States’ position towards Taiwan had not changed. “The President has previously stated this, most recently earlier this year in Tokyo. Then, he made it abundantly apparent that our Taiwan policy had not changed. That still holds true,” the spokeswoman stated.
The U.S. government’s “rock-solid security commitment to Taiwan” was reiterated by Biden, for which Taiwan’s foreign ministry thanked him.
In a statement, Taiwan said it would keep enhancing its capacity for self-defence and its strong security collaboration with the United States.
Biden’s interview with CBS took place last week. The president will be in Britain for Monday’s funeral of Queen Elizabeth. “Yes… That’s the commitment we made,” Biden responded when asked in May if he would be willing to participate militarily in defending Taiwan.
Biden reaffirmed in his interview with 60 Minutes that the U.S. did not support Taiwanese independence and was committed to its “One-China” policy, which recognises Beijing rather than Taipei as the rightful representative of China. Beijing, which was extremely incensed by Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, is certain to take offence at Biden’s comments.
China has condemned attempts by U.S. senators to pursue legislation that would strengthen U.S. military backing for Taiwan. That visit encouraged China to conduct its biggest-ever military drills surrounding Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has threatened to annex Taiwan and hasn’t ruled out using force to achieve this. Taiwan vigorously resists China’s claims of sovereignty.
An inquiry for comments was sent to the Chinese embassy in Washington, but there was no immediate response. “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Xi said in a phone conversation with Biden in July, urging him to avoid tampering with the flames over Taiwan.
When asked in October of last year if the United States would support Taiwan, which it is mandated by law to arm with the means of self-defence, Biden responded, “Yes, we commit to doing so.”
At the time, a White House official clarified that Biden was not declaring a change in U.S. policy, and some analysts called the remark a “gaffe.”
According to Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, if Biden made such commitments, he had better be sure he could keep his word.
She said, “If President Biden intends to defend Taiwan, he should ensure that the U.S. military can do so. Real capabilities must support rhetorical backing; else, deterrence is unlikely to be strengthened.”
Kurt Campbell, the director of Asia strategy for Biden, has previously opposed any effort to achieve “strategic clarity” over Taiwan, claiming such an approach would have “serious drawbacks.”