US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said his country’s policy towards Taiwan remained unchanged, a day after his comments raised questions about whether Washington was shifting from its long-standing policy of maintaining an ambiguous stance on the self-ruled island claimed by China as a renegade province.
When asked at the sidelines of the QUAD summit hosted by Japan as to whether the policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan was changed, Biden replied: “No.” “The policy has not changed at all. I stated that when I made my statement yesterday,” Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted Biden as saying in a response to another question about whether or not US troops would be sent to Taiwan if China invaded the island.
Biden on Monday said the United States was committed to defending Taiwan if China attempted to seize the self-ruled island by force.
Asked if the US is willing to get involved militarily in a Taiwan contingency, Biden told the media after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida here: “Yes. That’s the commitment we made.” Biden also said the burden to protect Taiwan was “even stronger” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The White House insists that Biden’s unusually forceful comments about Taiwan did not amount to a shift in US policy towards the self-ruled island that China claims as its own.
The US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but sells arms to it as part of its Taiwan Relations Act, which states that the US must provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary, reacted with strong opposition to the President’s Monday’s comment, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin warning that Beijing will “take firm actions to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. We will be true to our word”.
Wang also urged the US to earnestly abide by the “One China policy”, recognising Taiwan as part of the Chinese mainland and refrain from sending a wrong message to Taiwan’s independence forces.
Biden on Tuesday said: “The US made the commitment, we support the One China policy that does not mean China has the jurisdiction to use force to take over Taiwan.” The President also said the US policy had not changed at all with its commitment to supporting peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
The US traditionally has avoided making such an explicit security guarantee to Taiwan, with which it no longer has a mutual defence 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 US relations with the island, does not require the US 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.