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Beijing lodges protest over President Biden’s vows to militarily defend Taiwan

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep20’22) – China has reacted angrily on Sep 19 to US President Joe Biden’s remarks in an interview with the CBS news show 60 Minutes that aired the day before that American troops would defend Taiwan if mainland Chinese forces were to attack the self-ruled island, reported the AFP Sep 19. It has also lodged an official protest, said Reuters Sep 20.

“The US remarks… severely violate the important commitment the US made not to support Taiwan independence, and send a seriously erroneous signal to Taiwanese separatist independence forces,” the AFP quoted China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning as saying at a regular press briefing.

“We are willing to make the biggest sincere efforts to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification,” Mao has said.

“At the same time, we will never tolerate any activities aimed at splitting the country, and reserve the choice to take all necessary measures.”

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The basis for China’s assertion is that Washington cut formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, switching recognition to Beijing as the sole representative of China. However, it has maintained a decisive, if delicate, role in supporting the island since then.

The US is, by law, committed to provide Taiwan with means to defend itself. However, it has a long-standing preference policy of what is called strategic ambiguity on the issue of defending Taiwan, as a way to deter both China and Taiwan from taking steps that could alter the status quo.

Biden has insisted that there has been no change in US policy despite having vowed several times to defend Taiwan from any possible invasions from China. 

In his CBS interview, Biden has reiterated that the US remained committed to a “One-China” policy in which Washington officially recognises Beijing not Taipei, and said America was not encouraging Taiwanese independence.

“We are not moving, we are not encouraging their being independent … that’s their decision,” he has said.

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Nevertheless, Biden’s new comments are “dangerous, even if not an official change in policy”, the AFP report quoted Jessica Chen Weiss, professor of government at Cornell University, as saying on Twitter.

“More explicit here than in previous gaffes is the suggestion that the US would send troops to fight for Taiwan, regardless of what Taiwan does,” she has written, adding that it will “strengthen perceptions that the US is issuing Taiwan a blank check”.

Before the latest statement, Biden had said twice that the US would “defend” the island of Taiwan, but none of the remarks were as clear as the latest one, asserted China’s official globatimes.cn Sep 19.

The website cited Xin Qiang, director of the Taiwan studies center with Fudan University and deputy head of the university’s US studies center, as saying Biden’s remarks likely represented not only his personal views, but also those in his White House team and various political forces on Capitol Hill.

The website also noted that “the highly-provocative Taiwan Policy Act, which hollows out the one-China principle, sailed through a Senate panel this month, and is very likely to be passed in Congress and signed by the president.”

If the US moves further toward such “strategic clarity” that is entirely targeted against the Chinese mainland and supports Taiwan’s pro-independence behaviors, we will certainly have diplomatic, military and economic countermeasures for them, Xin has said.

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