Biden Promises to Keep ‘Commitment’ to Defend Taiwan in Case of Attack by China

Biden Promises to Keep ‘Commitment’ to Defend Taiwan in Case of Attack by China
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after their bilateral meeting at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on May 23, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Naveen Athrappully

U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated his country’s support for Taiwan, saying on Monday that his administration is willing to defend Taiwan with force if there is an attack by China’s communist party (CCP) on the mainland.

When a reporter asked whether Biden would be “willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” during the May 23 press conference in Tokyo, he replied with a flat “Yes.”

Biden then added, “It’s the commitment we made. Look, here’s the situation. We agree with a ‘One China’ policy, we’ve signed onto it, and all the intended agreements made from there. But the idea that [Taiwan] can be taken by force ... is just not appropriate,” he said of the CCP’s threats to its neighboring self-governed island.

“It will dislocate the entire region, and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it’s a burden that is even stronger.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was also in attendance at the press conference, agreed.

“Any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force—like Russia’s aggression against Ukraine—should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific, above all in east Asia,” he said in reference to China.

“Based on this shared awareness, I have stated my determination to fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defence capability and secure substantial increase of its defence budget, and President Biden has strongly supported this.”

Biden criticized China for “flirting with danger” by flying their fighter jets so close to Taiwan’s airspace and other maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait. But of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Biden said, “My expectation is it will not happen, it will not be attempted.

“A lot of it depends on just how strongly the world makes it clear that that kind of action is going to result in long term disapprobation by the rest of the community,” he added.

The “One China Policy” abided to by the United States and other world governments is different from the CCP’s “One China Principle,” although the Chinese regime only recognizes its version of the policy. China considers Taiwan as part of its territory for the CCP to govern.

The United States acknowledges China’s stance, but does not recognize Taiwan as a part of China. In short, a policy can change while a principle can not.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price wrote on Twitter on May 21 to differentiate the views, “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy. The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’—we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and Six Assurances.”

Biden is in Tokyo to meet with numerous world leaders for the launching of a new U.S.-led Asia-Pacific network, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which has 13 countries signed up, including India and Japan, but not Taiwan.

IPEF seeks to rally cooperation among nations in the Asia-Pacific who are facing increasing assertiveness by the CCP in the region.

Although Biden’s stance on a U.S. military response to defend Taiwan seemed definitive, White House officials have in the past pointed out after similar comments by the president that there haven’t been any changes to U.S. policy in the region.

The United States maintains a “strategic ambiguity” regarding a military defense of Taiwan in the case of a Chinese attack.

Growing apprehensions regarding China have pushed Japan and its ruling Liberal Democratic Party to take a more hardline stance and build up its defense capabilities. Other nations in the region, including India, Korea, and the Philippines, are doing the same.

Related Topics