American President Joe Biden said Monday that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan.
At a news conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden said “yes” when a reporter asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China invaded.
“That’s the commitment we made,” he said.
The president added, "We agree with a one-China policy. We've signed on to it and all the intended agreements made from there. But the idea that, that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not, is just not appropriate."
Under the “one-China” policy, the U.S. recognizes the government in Beijing as the only government of China. It does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, the U.S. maintains unofficial contacts including an office in Taipei, the capital, and supplies military equipment for the island’s defense.
Biden also noted that the duty to protect Taiwan is “even stronger” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The president’s comments were among the most forceful presidential statements in support of the self-governing territory.
The U.S. traditionally has maintained a policy called “strategic ambiguity” about how far it would be willing to go if China invaded Taiwan. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act has governed U.S. relations with the island. It does not require the U.S. to intervene militarily to defend Taiwan if China invades. But the treaty says American policy is to ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself.
A White House official said Biden’s comments did not represent a change in policy. But the president’s comments received sharp criticism from China which claims Taiwan as part of the country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “China will take firm action to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests, and we will do what we say.”
In recent years, China has increased its military activities close to the island. Last week, China sent 14 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone on the day that Biden arrived in Asia.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou expressed “sincere welcome and gratitude” for Biden’s comments. She added, “Taiwan will continue to improve its self-defense capabilities, and deepen cooperation with the United States and Japan and other like-minded countries…”
It is not the first time Biden has said the U.S. will defend Taiwan. In a CNN town hall broadcast in October, Biden was asked about using the U.S. military to defend Taiwan and replied, “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
Biden’s comments came just before he launched an Indo-Pacific trade deal with 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific. The countries joining the U.S. in the agreement are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Along with the United States, they represent 40 percent of world GDP.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed Sunday that Taiwan is not among the governments signed up for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. He said the U.S. wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan on a one-to-one basis.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Hai Do adapted this story from an Associated Press report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
commitment –n. a promise to do or give something
ambiguity –n. something that does not have a clear meaning
sovereignty –n. a country’s independent power, or authority, and the right to govern itself
zone –n. an area that is different from other areas in a certain way, especially involving some kinds of rules
sincere –adj. having or showing true feelings
gratitude –n. a feeling of thanks and being thankful
GDP (Gross Domestic Product) –n. the value of all the good and services produced in a country in one year
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.