TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden said Monday the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, saying the burden of protecting Taiwan was “even stronger” after Russia invaded Ukraine. . It was one of the strongest presidential statements in favor of autonomy in decades.
Biden, at a press conference in Tokyo, said “yes” when asked if he was prepared to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China invaded. “That’s the commitment we made,” he added.
The United States has traditionally avoided making such an explicit security guarantee to Taiwan, with which it no longer has a mutual defense treaty, maintaining instead a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about how far it would be prepared. to go if China invaded them. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which governed US relations with the island, does not require the US to intervene militarily to defend Taiwan if China invades, but makes US policy to ensure that Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and to prevent any unilateral attack. change of status in Taiwan by Beijing.
Biden’s comments were likely to draw a heated response from the mainland, which claimed Taiwan was a rogue province.
A White House official said Biden’s comments did not reflect a change in policy.
Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden said any effort by China to use force against Taiwan would “simply not be appropriate,” adding that it will “disrupt the whole region and be another similar action.” to what happened in Ukraine”.
China has intensified its military provocations against democratic Taiwan in recent years in an effort to intimidate it into accepting Beijing’s demands to unite with the communist mainland.
“They’re already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers that are being undertaken,” Biden said of China.
Under the “One China” policy, the United States recognizes Beijing as the government of China and has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, the United States maintains unofficial contacts, including a de facto embassy in Taipei, the capital, and provides military equipment for the defense of the island.
Biden said he “expects” China won’t try to take over Taiwan by force, but he said the assessment “depends on how strong the world makes it clear that this type of action will lead to long-term disapproval by the rest of the community.
He added that deterring China from attacking Taiwan was one of the reasons why it is important that Russian President Vladimir Putin “pay a high price for his barbarism in Ukraine”, lest China and other countries have the idea that such an action is acceptable.
Fearing an escalation with nuclear-armed Russia, Biden quickly ruled out bringing U.S. forces into direct conflict with Russia, but sent billions of dollars in U.S. military assistance that has helped Ukraine oppose a firmer than expected resistance to the onslaught of Russia.
This is not the first time Biden has pledged to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, only to have administration officials later claim there has been no change in US policy. In a CNN town hall in October, Biden was asked about using the U.S. military to defend Taiwan and replied, “Yes, we are committed to doing that.”
Biden’s comments came just before he officially launched a long-awaited Indo-Pacific trade pact that excludes Taiwan.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on Sunday that Taiwan is not among the signatory governments to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which aims to allow the United States to work more closely with major Asian economies. on issues such as supply chains, digital trade, clean energy and anti-corruption.
The inclusion of Taiwan would have irritated China.
Sullivan said the United States wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan on a one-to-one basis.
Miller reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.