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Biden says his Taiwan comments don’t reflect a change in U.S. policy after drawing ire from China


After their bilateral meeting in Tokyo (Japan), May 23, 2022, Joe Biden, the President of the United States, speaks at a news conference that was held with Fumio Kinshida, Japan’s Prime Minster. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe BidenHe maintained Tuesday that the U.S. had not changed its strategy on Taiwan, just a day after angering Beijing by claiming his administration would change. to use military force to defend the island.

Biden met with representatives from Japan, India, Australia and other countries at their second so-called Quad Leaders’ SummitTuesday was the last day of the ‘Events in Tokyo’.

Numerous delegates were surprised Monday by the suggestion of President Obama that American troops might be sent to Taiwan in case China invades. Biden answered a reporter’s question about whether he was willing to be involved in defense of Taiwan.

Those remarks came as a surprise to world leaders as a departure from decades of U.S. policy that warned China against using force in Taiwan — but opted to remain vague about the extent to which it would defend the island.

Following talks in Tokyo with top global leaders on Tuesday, the president clarified what he said.

When asked whether his comments earlier indicated an end to U.S. strategy of strategic ambiguity American diplomats had followed for many decades, he replied “The policy hasn’t changed at all.” When I made yesterday’s statement, that was what I said.”

Biden made the initial statement during his first Asia trip as President. This sparked tensions between America and China, as the Chinese believe Taiwan is part of their territory, and therefore cannot be considered a nation.

Biden made a second day clarification. However, it is not clear if the comments by President Obama were an error or deliberate. The White House quickly sent a moderating email to CNBC.

“As President stated, our policy is unchanged. A White House official said that he reiterated the One China Policy as well as our commitment to stability and peace across Taiwan Strait.

One China policy states that China’s communist People’s Republic of China (the sole legal government) is responsible for all matters and has unofficial relationships with Taiwanese citizens.

According to the White House official, “He reiterated our commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act in providing Taiwan with military means to protect itself.”

The Chinese communist leaders however were not convinced.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin warned on Monday that “no one should underestimate the strong resolve, determination and capability of the Chinese people in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He said, “No one should oppose the 1.4 million Chinese people.”

It’s not the first time White House staff have tried to moderate remarks by the President.

Biden’s March statement in Poland saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “unable to remain in power” triggered a political storm. The White House attempted to clarify that Biden wasn’t discussing Putin’s Russia power, nor regime change, later in the day.

Dewardric McNeal, a former analyst in the Defense Department, insists that President Trump’s comments were not erroneous.

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“This WAS NOT a gaffe or a misspeak on President Biden’s part — his view may not be the view of his advisors,” McNeal, a CNBC contributor, wrote Tuesday morning. “This was an intentionally made statement, meant to send a message not only to Beijing, but also Taipei,” Taiwan’s capital.

U.S. military intervention promises would override provisions in the U.S. China Taiwan Relations Act. This Act has governed geopolitical policies in Asia since 1979.

This act requires the U.S. to “maintain the United States’ ability to resist any recourse to force or another forms of coercion which would jeopardize security or the economic or social system of the people of Taiwan.”

Although the law doesn’t require Washington to use its military to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion it has been long viewed as an impractical pledge to preserve the existing order on Taiwan.

McNeal said that Biden wanted to let the world know US commitments meant something.

McNeal now works as a Longview Global policy analysts and stated that Biden is likely to believe many of those assumptions which underpin the U.S. strategy for strategic ambiguity.

He explained that some of these assumptions included the belief that China’s military might would not surpass that of Taiwan, and that peaceful negotiations between Beijing and Taipei could lead to a peaceful solution.

The U.S. President may believe in One China insofar that the communist party has control over China. However, Biden may be expressing a desire for modernization of the strategy of strategic ambiguity to correct those old assumptions.