Home » Focus: Mr. Biden’s remarks on defense of Taiwan, suggesting a shift to “support for independence” | Reuters

Focus: Mr. Biden’s remarks on defense of Taiwan, suggesting a shift to “support for independence” | Reuters

by archyde

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden made another in-depth remark about the Taiwan issue in an interview with CBS on Wednesday. News headlines proclaimed that the United States would defend Taiwan if China invaded.

On September 19, U.S. President Biden (pictured) made an in-depth remark about the Taiwan issue in an interview on CBS television that aired the day before. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

But far more importantly, Biden could also be interpreted as suggesting a shift in U.S. policy toward pro-Taiwan independence.

The White House is desperate to explain that there will be no change in US policy after Mr. Biden’s remarks. But some experts said Mr. Biden may have undermined, intentionally or not, the U.S.’s traditional stance of not committing to Taiwan’s independence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has long pledged to bring Taiwan under his control, and has threatened to use military force to do so. The Taiwanese government has strongly objected to China’s claim that it is “a part of its own territory,” but has sent out the message that Taiwan is already a de facto independent country and does not need to declare independence again.

US officials such as Secretary of State Brinken and Secretary of Defense Austin also emphasized this year that the US does not support Taiwan independence. This has been a meticulous U.S. diplomatic effort over the past decades to dissuade Beijing from “unprovoked aggression” while persuading Taiwan not to formally declare independence. was part of a policy of “double deterrence,” as Washington puts it.

However, Biden said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program, “Taiwan will make its own decisions about independence. We as the United States are not pushing for Taiwan independence. That’s their decision.”

Biden’s critics say Beijing will perceive him as tacitly endorsing Taiwan’s declaration of independence. He also pointed out that since China is likely to assume that the United States will move to defend Taiwan, the demerit of aggravating hostility on the part of China would be greater than the effect of explicitly stating that it would defend Taiwan.

Craig Singleton, a China expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, said, “While saying that the US policy on Taiwan will not change, the US military has promised to defend Taiwan and Taiwan has the right to make independent decisions. It’s a contradiction to admit that,” he said, adding that China was likely concerned that Mr Biden had suggested Taiwan could decide for itself whether to become independent.

Some Republicans, including Senator Ben Sass, praised Mr Biden’s remarks and accused the White House of backing down. On the other hand, a spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) insisted that the president directly affirmed the US’ long-maintained one-China policy.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it was “sincerely grateful” to Biden for his steadfast support for his remarks.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington warned that the United States should not send false signals to Taiwanese separatists and jeopardize peace in the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations.

Jude Blanchett, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said Mr. Biden’s remarks confused rather than clarified U.S. policy.

He added, “One of the issues where accurate language is most important is the issue of Taiwan policy. Our foreign policy is fundamentally in the direction of the United States defending Taiwan even if Taiwan declares independence.” If it turns into a 60 Minutes interview, it will be a topic that deserves a more robust discussion than just an interview.”

(Reporters by Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom)

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