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Biden Says US Would Defend Taiwan From China Attack

A White House spokesman later said that US policy in regard to Taiwan had not changed while China urged the US to avoid sending wrong signals.


US President Joe Biden has ruffled China's feathers with his latest remarks about being committed to defend Taiwan. Photo: Reuters.

 

President Joe Biden said the US has a commitment to defend Taiwan if it is under attack from China, sowing confusion over its long-held policy of ”strategic ambiguity” and whether it would intervene militarily in the event of hostilities.

The White House later said that US policy in regard to Taiwan had not changed while China urged the US to avoid sending wrong signals over an issue a Foreign Ministry spokesman said China has ”no room for compromise.”

Biden was speaking at a town hall event in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by CNN. Asked by a student if he could vow to protect Taiwan, the president said “yes” and noted that the US had “the most powerful military in the history of the world.”

Asked by CNN host Anderson Cooper if the US would come to Taiwan’s defence if China attacked the island, which it regards as a renegade province, Biden responded: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”  He added that he didn’t want a Cold War with China but said, ”I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back. We are not going to change any of our views.”

No Change

A White House spokesperson later said Biden had not announced a change in US policy and that the “US defence relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act.” Washington is required under that Act to provide Taiwan with assistance to defend itself, and the spokesman said, ”We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defence, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.”

It was the second time that Biden has pledged to defend Taiwan. In an ABC interview in August he said the US had a “sacred commitment” to defend NATO allies in Canada and Europe, and it was the “same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan.” Officials in the US say they hope to arrange a virtual summit between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss bilateral ties before the end of the year.

Beijing’s response to Biden’s latest remarks was firm and dismissive. “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” spokesman Wang Wenbin said. “The Taiwan issue is purely China’s internal affair, and no external interference is allowed. No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s determination, and strong ability to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, which should be taken by force if necessary. Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said earlier this month that military tensions with China were at their worst in more than 40 years and added that he feared China would be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.

• By Jim Pollard.

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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