Biden: US Would Defend Taiwan 05/23 06:12
President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. would intervene militarily if
China were to invade Taiwan, saying the burden to protect Taiwan is "even
stronger' after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It was one of the most forceful
presidential statements in support of self-governing in decades.
TOKYO (AP) -- President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. would intervene
militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, saying the burden to protect Taiwan
is "even stronger' after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It was one of the most
forceful presidential statements in support of self-governing in decades.
Biden, at a news conference in Tokyo, said "yes" when asked if he was
willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China invaded. "That's
the commitment we made," he added.
The U.S. traditionally has avoided making such an explicit security
guarantee to Taiwan, with which it no longer has a mutual defense treaty,
instead maintaining a policy of "strategic ambiguity" about how far it would be
willing to go if China invaded. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which has
governed U.S. relations with the island, does not require the U.S. to step in
militarily to defend Taiwan if China invades, but makes it American policy to
ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and to prevent any unilateral
change of status in Taiwan by Beijing.
Biden's comments drew a sharp response from the mainland, which has claimed
Taiwan to be a rogue province.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin expressed "strong
dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to Biden's comments. "China has no
room for compromise or concessions on issues involving China's core interests
such as sovereignty and territorial integrity."
He added, "China will take firm action to safeguard its sovereignty and
security interests, and we will do what we say."
A White House official said Biden's comments did not reflect a policy shift.
Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden said any
effort by China to use force against Taiwan would "just not be appropriate,"
adding that it "will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar
to what happened in Ukraine."
China has stepped up its military provocations against democratic Taiwan in
recent years aimed at intimidating it into accepting Beijing's demands to unify
with the communist mainland.
"They're already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all
the maneuvers that are undertaken," Biden said of China.
Under the "one China" policy, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the government
of China and doesn't have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, the U.S.
maintains unofficial contacts including a de facto embassy in Taipei, the
capital, and supplies military equipment for the island's defense.
Biden said it is his "expectation" that China would not try to seize Taiwan
by force, but he said that assessment "depends upon just how strong the world
makes clear that that kind of action is going to result in long-term
disapprobation by the rest of the community."
He added that deterring China from attacking Taiwan was one reason why it's
important that Russian President Vladimir Putin "pay a dear price for his
barbarism in Ukraine," lest China and other nations get the idea that such
action is acceptable.
Fearing escalation with nuclear-armed Russia, Biden quickly ruled out
putting U.S. forces into direct conflict with Russia, but he has shipped
billions of dollars in U.S. military assistance that has helped Ukraine put up
a stiffer-than-expected resistance to Russia's onslaught.
Taipei cheered Biden's remarks, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs
spokesperson Joanne Ou expressing "sincere welcome and gratitude" for the
"The challenge posed by China to the security of the Taiwan Strait has drawn
great concern in the international community," said Ou. "Taiwan will continue
to improve its self-defense capabilities, and deepen cooperation with the
United States and Japan and other like-minded countries to jointly defend the
security of the Taiwan Strait and the rules-based international order, while
promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region."
It's not the first time Biden has pledged to defend Taiwan against a Chinese
attack, only for administration officials to later claim there had been no
change to American policy. In a CNN town hall in October, Biden was asked about
using the U.S. military to defend Taiwan and replied, "Yes, we have a
commitment to do that."
Biden's comments came just before he formally launched a long-anticipated
Indo-Pacific trade pact that excludes Taiwan.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed Sunday that
Taiwan isn't among the governments signed up for the Indo-Pacific Economic
Framework, which is meant to allow the U.S. to work more closely with key Asian
economies on issues like supply chains, digital trade, clean energy and
Inclusion of Taiwan would have irked China.
Sullivan said the U.S. wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan
on a one-to-one basis.