Joe Biden states that the U.S. would defend Taiwan in case China launches an “unprecedented assault” on Taiwan. It is the latest in a string he has made over the past 12 months, which are unusually direct about America’s intentions when faced with growing pressure from Beijing.
Biden was interviewed Sunday about whether the U.S. would support Taiwan. Taiwan is a self-governing democracy, located 100 miles from China and claimed by Beijing.
Biden replied, “Yes, sir, there was an unprecedented attack.”
Biden responded, “Yes,” to be asked again if U.S. forces would be involved in the event there was an invasion from China.
Biden previously suggested that the U.S. would be involved in a conflict with Taiwan on three previous occasions.
Some observers claim that these remarks are inconsistent with a long-held preference of U.S. administrations to ambiguity on Taiwan’s defense as a way for both China and Taiwan to avoid taking steps that might alter the status quo.
The White House said that these remarks are not intended to change U.S. policies.
A White House spokesperson stated, “The president said this before… He also said that our Taiwan policy had not changed. That is true.”
The interview will still anger Beijing. Beijing has accused U.S. lawmakers of sending a “wrong signal” to Taiwanese supporting formal independence.
China’s ruling Communist Party considers Taiwan unfinished business after the civil war that ended in 1949 when the defeated Nationalist Party fled to Taiwan. Beijing has pledged to bring Taiwan into the fold, using peaceful means if possible, but force if necessary.
According to polls, however, a majority of Taiwan’s 23 million inhabitants favor the status quo and oppose unification.
Biden said the U.S. was not encouraging Taiwan’s independence — a red line for Beijing — but he added: “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence…that’s their decision.”
The U.S. has committed to Taiwan that it will provide the necessary defenses. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the debate over what this should look like has intensified. China has also contributed to the shift in power across the Taiwan Strait by modernizing its armed forces over a multi-year period.
Officials from the United States insist that Taiwan’s policy is unchanged. However, informal relations between Washington DC and Taipei have deteriorated as tensions between China & America have escalated over recent years.
In a telephone call in July, Xi Jinping, China’s leader, warned Biden about American interference in Taiwan. He stated that “those who play around with fire eventually get burned.”
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker of the House, was last month in Taiwan. This made her the most senior American official to visit Taiwan since Newt Gerich’s 1997 trip as House Speaker.
China was angry at the visit. In the weeks that followed, it conducted military drills near Taiwan as well as flew warplanes along the median line in the middle of Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan and the mainland.
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