US President Joe Biden said on Monday that his country would respond militarily if China intervenes in Taiwan by force. “That is the commitment we made,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
“Look, this is the situation,” Biden told reporters during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. “We agree with the One China policy. We signed it and all the corresponding agreements were made from there, but the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is (just not) appropriate.”
US President Joe Biden (L) speaks during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on May 23.
The president has made similar statements in the past, only for the White House to say that longstanding US policy has not changed toward the self-governing island. The United States provides defensive weapons to Taiwan but has remained intentionally ambiguous about whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.
Under the “One China” policy, the US recognizes China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized Beijing’s claim to the island of 23 million.
In a statement following Biden’s comments on Monday, a White House official said the official US position remained unchanged. “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,” the official said.
Taiwan is less than 110 miles (177 kilometers) from the Chinese coast. For more than 70 years, the two territories have been governed separately, but that hasn’t stopped China’s ruling Communist Party from claiming the island as its own, even though it has never controlled it.
In recent weeks, Beijing has sent dozens of fighter jets to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping saying “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and refusing to rule out the use of the strength.
Comparison with Ukraine
Biden compared a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, warning: “It will dislocate the entire region” and stressed that “Russia has to pay a long-term price for its Actions”.
“And the reason why I bother to say this, not only about Ukraine, if in fact, after everything it has done, there is a rapprochement … between the Ukrainians and Russia, and these sanctions are not maintained for many ways, so what signal does that send to China about the cost of trying to take Taiwan by force?”
Biden said that China is “already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvering they’re doing.”
“But the United States is committed, we made a commitment, we support the One China policy, we support everything that we’ve done in the past, but that doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean that China has the ability, has the, excuse me, the jurisdiction to go in and use force to take over Taiwan,” he added.
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