President Joe Biden was asked about China’s recent campaign of ramping up provocations against Taiwan on the White House lawn Tuesday as he exited Marine One from a trip to Michigan, offering a mealy-mouthed response that seemed to only add confusion to an already tense situation.
Saying he has spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan, the president said they agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement.”
“I’ve spoken with Xi about Taiwan. We agree we will abide by the Taiwan agreement,” he told reporters. “That’s where we are and I made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement.”
Biden offered no timeframe as to when that discussion took place. He spoke with Xi a month ago in a 90-minute call on Sept. 9, which was reportedly their first talk in seven months.
Biden on Taiwan:
“I’ve spoken with Xi about Taiwan. We agree— We’ll abide by the Taiwan agreement, that’s where we are, and we made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement.”pic.twitter.com/lBSYlWKm8P
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) October 5, 2021
Given recent events in Afghanistan, where Biden essentially surrendered to the Taliban and made a hasty exit from the Central Asian country, leaving behind not only $85 billion of U.S. military equipment and weaponry, but also American citizens, everything the president says must be taken in the context of that debacle.
The remark was not seen by many as a stern warning to Beijing to back off, and the reference to an “agreement” left Taiwan News somewhat baffled.
“It’s not exactly clear what Biden meant by the ‘Taiwan agreement,’ because no formal agreement by that name exists,” the newspaper reported. “Analysts were left to speculate that he might mean the Taiwan Relations Act, which was an act passed by Congress in 1979 that authorized de facto diplomatic relations with Taiwan and had a provision that the U.S. should provide weaponry for its defense.”
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry sought clarification from the United States about Biden’s comments, according to Reuters, which reported that the Asian country was assured U.S. policy had not changed and the American commitment was “rock solid” and that the U.S. will continue to help the country maintain its defenses.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory, while Taiwan insists that it is an independent country and will defend itself. Over the weekend, beginning on Friday when China marked its patriotic holiday, National Day, Beijing engaged in the largest ever incursion of Taiwan airspace, with Taiwan reporting 148 Chinese air force planes in the southern and southwestern part of its air defense zone over a four-day period, Reuters reported.
“The United States is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Sunday.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to “do whatever it takes” to defend itself against China amid the record number of warplane incursions, asserting the people of Taiwan have “made clear to the entire world that democracy is non-negotiable,” Taiwan News reported.
Tsai warned that Taiwan lies along the strategic first island chain and said if this line was “broken by force,” it would result in serious disruption in international trade and destabilize the Western Pacific region, according to the newspaper.
“A failure to defend Taiwan would not only be catastrophic for the Taiwanese; it would overturn a security architecture that has allowed for peace and extraordinary economic development in the region for seven decades,” the Taiwanese president said.
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