China responds to Biden’s Taiwan defense pledge
Beijing has issued a protest in response to US President Joe Biden’s latest remark that Washington could use its military to defend Taiwan. China considers the self-governing island to be a part of its inalienable territory that is temporarily controlled by separatists.
On Monday, China’s foreign ministry said it “deplores and firmly opposes” Biden’s comment, adding that it has lodged “stern representations” with Washington.
Taipei, in turn, welcomed the US president’s remark, which it took as confirming Washington’s “rock-solid security commitment to Taiwan.”
The polar opposite reactions came after Biden replied in the affirmative when asked by a journalist whether Washington would deploy its military to defend Taiwan.
“Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack,” the US head of state said on CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday.
Biden, however, hastened to qualify his statement by claiming that the US is not encouraging Taiwan’s independence.
“There’s a One China policy and Taiwan makes their own judgements on their independence,” the president added.
When asked for comment, a White House spokesperson also reiterated that “our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true.”
However, Biden has made similar remarks on several occasions over the past few months, indicating America’s readiness to stick up for Taiwan militarily.
Relations between the US and China hit a new low after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a controversial visit to the island last month. Beijing responded with several days of massive military drills around Taiwan.
The island has been de facto independent since 1949, after the losing side in the Chinese Civil War fled to Taiwan and set up its own administration there. While only a handful of nations have since recognized Taiwan as a sovereign country, Taipei has long enjoyed close, unofficial ties with the US, with the latter supplying weapons to the island.
Meanwhile, on paper, Washington still adheres to the One-China principle, under which it formally recognizes only one Chinese government – that in Beijing.
China considers Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory which was temporarily seized by separatists. President Xi has repeatedly said Beijing would seek “reunification” and has not ruled out a military option to achieve this goal.