The White House has defended President Joe Biden’s comments that the American military would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, saying he was answering a “hypothetical question” that did not reflect a change in the “one China” policy, according to the US.
In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, Biden reiterated an earlier pledge to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion.
The comments marked another example of how the president appears to have moved beyond the United States’ longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the issue, CNN said.
“As the President said in his interview with 60 Minutes, we remain committed to the One China policy. We continue to oppose unilateral changes to the status quo. And we remain committed to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House news briefing.
As part of the “One China” policy, the US recognizes China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized the Communist Party’s claim to the self-governing island of 23 million people.
“The President has reiterated these fundamental commitments on every occasion he has spoken about Taiwan, including in this interview in which he expressly and forcefully and unequivocally affirmed and reiterated the One China policy,” Sullivan responded to a question on Biden’s recent interview.
“In that interview he was asked a hypothetical question. He was asked a very similar question in Tokyo in May. He gave a similar response to the 60 Minutes interview in Tokyo in May,” Sullivan said.
“After that response in Tokyo, someone specifically said to him, ‘Did you just announce a major policy change?’ And he said, ‘No, I didn’t. I was answering a hypothetical question. I didn’t announce a policy change’.” , he added.
If the President of the United States wants to announce a change in policy, he will. He didn’t do that, Sullivan said.
Biden, he said, is a straight forward person.
“He answered hypothetically. He’s answered it in a similar way before. And he also made it clear that he has not changed US policy towards Taiwan,” Sullivan said.
“He stands behind the historic US policy towards Taiwan, which has existed through Democratic and Republican governments and has helped maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait for decades,” he said.
Meanwhile, in an interview with CBS News, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the US would continue to work with the Chinese on the Security Council.
“But what Beijing should understand from the President’s statement, we had no policy change. We still support the one-China policy, but we have also clearly stood up for Taiwan’s right to exist, and the president was clear in his statement on Sunday in 60 Minutes,” she said.
Hours after Biden’s comments, China made it clear to Washington on Monday that it would not tolerate activities aimed at dividing the country and would take “necessary measures” to protect its sovereignty.
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