White House says no change in US policy towards Taiwan

The White House sought clarification on Friday President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes Defense Policy Bill 8B House approves bill to facilitate passage of debt ceiling hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden Saudi arms sale MORETaiwan’s comments were aimed at securing Taiwan’s defense against a potential Chinese attack, saying US policy toward the island remains unchanged.

“The president was not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy,” a White House spokesman said in response to a request for comment from The Hill.

“The United States’ defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will honor our commitment under the law, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.

President Biden responded in the affirmative on Thursday evening when asked at a CNN town hall whether the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if attacked by China.

“Yes, we are committed to doing it,” said the president.

The response appeared to run counter to nearly four decades of US policy toward Taiwan, in which America has adhered to “strategic ambiguity” when dealing with the island nation. Biden’s comment follows a similar statement he made in August, when he appeared to equate US policy toward Taiwan with security commitments he maintains with South Korea and Japan.

The White House also rebuffed those comments at the time, saying the United States’ position on Taiwan had not changed from the position of strategic ambiguity.

The engagement allows the United States to provide military sales to Taiwan to ensure its ability to defend against an impending attack or invasion, but America’s responsibility to physically come to the aid of Taipei is ambiguous. to an attack.

Chinese officials rebuffed Biden’s comments on Friday, accusing the United States of interfering in China’s internal affairs.

“The Taiwan issue is purely China’s internal affairs which does not allow any foreign interference. … No one should underestimate the determination, will and ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity, ”said Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, during a briefing with journalists.

“We urge the United States to strictly adhere to the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three Sino-American joint communiques, to be careful in its words and actions on the Taiwan issue, and to avoid sending signals. misguided to the separatist forces of “Taiwan independence”. , lest it seriously undermine China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan separated from mainland China in 1949 when the nationalist government fled to the island following the country’s civil war. Taipei, which officially calls itself the Republic of China, considers itself the legitimate government of the Chinese people, but Beijing considers it a rogue territory that is part of the People’s Republic of China.

The United States established its “one China” policy in 1979, recognizing Beijing as China’s only legal government, but maintained informal relations with Taiwan and pledged to ensure its self-defense, as part of the efforts to promote reconciliation between Beijing and Taipei and avoid a forced takeover of the island, which is ruled by a democratic government.

Yet an increasingly aggressive and provocative China has raised the risk that an invasion of Taiwan is possible and raised questions about the usefulness of the US policy of strategic ambiguity in favor of a clearer engagement ahead. helping Taiwan in the face of an invasion.

China sent at least 150 fighter jets into airspace near Taiwan in late September and early October, which is seen as an extremely provocative move.

Nicholas Burns, Biden’s candidate for US ambassador to China, on Wednesday called China’s actions and rhetoric worrying, but reiterated he believes the administration’s policy on Taiwan was unchanged and supported it.

“My point, and fortunately this has been supported, I think, both by the Biden administration and by all administrations for four decades, is that we have enormous leeway, Congress and the executive branch, under of the Taiwan Relations Act to deepen our security. helping Taiwan, ”Burns said.

“Our responsibility is to make Taiwan a tough nut to crack.”

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report.

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