President Joe Biden said that the US would respond militarily if China tried to take Taiwan by force, a statement that seemed to go against Washington’s decades-long strategic ambiguity regarding the situation. Biden made the comment Monday at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo during his second stop on his Asia tour.
This doesn’t mean a change in US policy, though, according to The White House. The US stance is that the country abides by the “One China” policy – meaning it recognizes, though does not endorse, China’s stance that Taiwan is part of China. The current policy under the Taiwan Relations Act asserts that the US is not required to get involved directly but would provide means for Taiwan to defend itself in the case of an attack.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan holds a similar view, and both sides have “asserted the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait which is fundamental to international order.” Within a few hours, China had responded to the comments with “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.”
“We agree with the ‘One-China Policy,’ we signed on to it and all the attendant agreements made from there. But the idea that it can be taken by force … is just not appropriate. It will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine,” said US President Joe Biden during a press conference on Monday.
“On issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for compromise,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “We urged the US side to earnestly follow the One China principle … be cautious in words and deeds on the Taiwan issue, and not send any wrong signal to pro-Taiwan independence and separatist forces – so it won’t cause serious damage to the situation across the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations.
“I would argue that, given these comments, Kishida has to do something that is conspicuous to demonstrate that Japan really is willing to act rather than just talk,” said Yoichi Shimada, International Relations professor at Fukui Prefectural University. “Japan has to show that it is willing to do more than simply hide behind the US every time there is an issue that has to be dealt with.”