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Joe Biden suggests US would defend Taiwan against China, forcing fresh White House clarification

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Joe Biden suggests US would defend Taiwan against China, forcing fresh White House clarification

Taiwan

Joe Biden suggests US would defend Taiwan against China, forcing fresh White House clarification

Administration insists there is no change of policy after president says US has ‘a commitment’ to defend island

President Joe Biden at the town hall meeting

The White House subsequently told reporters that US policy on Taiwan had not changed.

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Biden is not the first American president to say that the US had a commitment to defend Taiwan. In April 2001, George W Bush said Washington would do “whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself” in the event of attack by China. “Yes, we do … and the Chinese must understand that. Yes, I would,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” at the time.

But the latest gaffe from Biden came at a sensitive time in the Taiwan strait. Military tensions between Taiwan and China were at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defence minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, said this month. China would be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025, he added.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, which should be taken by force if necessary, while Taiwan says it is a de-facto independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.

“Strategic ambiguity”

Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

In August, a Biden administration official said US policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the US would defend the island if it were attacked.

Biden said on Thursday: “I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”

China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the US and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei. Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations ambassador, Zhang Jun, said the country was pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive party.

“We are not the troublemaker,” he said. “On the contrary, some countries – the US in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction … Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest.”

With Reuters

Topics

  • Taiwan
  • Joe Biden
  • China
  • Asia Pacific
  • news
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Published at Fri, 22 Oct 2021 04:49:31 +0000

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/22/biden-suggests-us-would-defend-taiwan-against-china-forcing-fresh-white-house-clarification

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