President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. is willing to intervene militarily should China forcibly try to take Taiwan.
“Yes,” Biden said at a joint press conference in Tokyo when pressed on whether the U.S. would “get involved militarily to defend Taiwan” if necessary. “That’s the commitment we made.”
“We agree with the ‘One China’ policy,” Biden continued. “We signed on to it, and all the attendant agreements made from there, but the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is [not] appropriate. It would dislocate the entire region and be another action, similar to what happened in Ukraine.” (RELATED: US Military Says Chinese Attack On Taiwan Accelerating As Taiwan Threatens War ‘To The Very Last Day’)
The White House quickly sought to walk back the president’s comments.
“As the President said, our policy has not changed,” a White House official said afterwards. “He reiterated our One China policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
Biden’s latest comments mark a shift in the normally-ambiguous government viewpoints regarding military intervention, according to CNN. In recognizing the “One China” policy, the U.S. acknowledges that the Chinese government is the only government, but the U.S. still has an unofficial relationship with Taiwan that includes arms sales.
This is not the first time Biden aides have had to clean up the president’s comments on Taiwan – nor is it the first time the president has made such definitive remarks on the subject.
“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” an official quickly clarified afterwards, according to CNN.
China swiftly responded to Biden’s latest comments, expressing “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.”
“On issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for compromise,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, according to CNN.
“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.”
The “One China” principle mentioned by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman differs from the “One China” policy followed by the U.S. As BBC reported, the former is the concept – believed by China – that Taiwan “is an inalienable part of one China” and will be reunified at some point in the future.