Joe Biden on Monday said that US would defend Taiwan militarily if it was attacked by China as he insisted that America’s policy toward the island had not changed.
Biden, asked at a press conference in Tokyo if the U.S. would intervene military to defend Taiwan, said, “that’s the commitment we made.”
Speaking alongside Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, he added that the U.S. maintains a “one China policy,” recognizing Beijing as the government of China, but said that the idea that Taiwan can be “just taken by force … is just not appropriate.”
China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory, and its Foreign Ministry swiftly rejected Biden’s remarks as interference in its internal affairs, international media NPR reported.
“When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests,” China ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters, “there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions.”
The White House walked back similar remarks by Biden last year, which appeared to undercut America’s long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity,” that is, not telegraphing how Washington might respond to an invasion of Taiwan, the report said.
“I think it is unlikely that allies will perceive this as a gaffe, even as the White House insists that there has been no change in policy,” NNPR quoted Corey Wallace, an expert on Japanese politics at Kanagawa University, near Tokyo, as saying.
“Greater U.S. commitment or involvement with regards to Taiwan will certainly be appreciated by Kishida and others in the Japanese government,” Wallace added, as per the report.
Tokyo’s previous reticence about speaking out on Taiwan has melted away as Beijing has turned up the heat on the island, and Japanese officials have publicly called for Tokyo to join Washington in defending Taiwan.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has amplified the concerns over Taiwan, as Tokyo fears Russia’s moves could embolden Beijing.
A joint statement by Biden and Kishida included a long list of concerns about China’s actions, from its upgrading its nuclear arsenal and human rights issues in China’s far-west Xinjiang region, to the “non-transparent” signing of a security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands.
Biden also unveiled a new trade agreement dubbed the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). The pact, signed by the U.S. and 12 Asian nations, aims to secure industrial supplies, cut carbon emissions and combat corruption, the NPR report said.