- The US would respond with military force if China attacked Taiwan, Joe Biden said.
- Biden said his comments did not contradict existing agreements between the US and China.
- A US official, seeming to anticipate pushback from China, also said the position was not new.
President Joe Biden on Monday said that the US would use military force to defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China.
Biden was asked by a reporter in Tokyo, Japan, whether the US would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. Biden responded “yes,” Reuters reported.
Biden then continued, arguing that such a response was in line with existing US-China relations:
“That’s the commitment we made,” he said.
“We agree with a one-China policy. We’ve signed on to it and all the intended agreements made from there. But the idea that, that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not, is just not appropriate.”
The One-China policy is China’s name for its assertion that there is only one government of China, which includes Taiwan.
China has long claimed Taiwan as part of its country and views it as a breakaway province, though the island is self-governing and it has rejected China’s claim on it.
China vocally insists in its diplomacy that other countries agree with a One-China position, sidelining Taiwan as a official nation.
In line with this, the US and many other countries do not deal with Taiwan like other countries, and have no embassies there. Taiwan isn’t recognized by the United Nations, and its athletes compete at the Olympics under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
An unnamed White House official told Reuters that Biden’s remarks were not out of line with existing US policies on China.
“As the President said, our policy has not changed.”
“He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
CNN noted that the US has historically shied away from explicitly committing to using military force if China attacked Taiwan.
The Associated Press added that the US has deliberately remained ambiguous over whether it would use its military to respond of Taiwan was attacked.