Comments by Biden and others on US policy of ‘ambiguity’ in Taiwan

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he would be prepared to use force to defend Taiwan, capping a series of critical comments about China in Asia that an aide said represented no change in U.S. policy towards the autonomous island.

While the United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. .

China considers the self-governing island an inalienable part of its territory and says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with Washington.

Here is a timeline of comments by Biden and others on US Taiwan policy.

May 4, 2021 – US Indo-Pacific Policy Coordinator Kurt Campbell has voiced his opposition to US calls for a clear statement on its willingness to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, saying that there were “significant drawbacks” to “strategic clarity”.

Aug. 19 – Biden, in an interview broadcast by ABC News, appeared to group Taiwan with countries with which Washington has explicit defense commitments, such as South Korea, suggesting a deviation from the “strategic ambiguity” stance. .

A Biden administration official said US policy toward Taiwan had not changed, and analysts said Biden appeared to have misspoken.

Oct. 21 – Biden told a CNN town hall that the United States will come to the defense of Taiwan and is committed to defending the island.

A White House spokesperson said Biden was not announcing any changes in US policy. Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, called Biden’s remark a “blunder” and said it was “patently untrue” that the United States had pledged to defend Taiwan.

Oct. 27 – Biden told an East Asian leaders’ summit that the United States is deeply concerned about China’s “coercive” action across the Taiwan Strait and reiterated that states States had a “rock-solid” commitment to the island.

Nov. 3 – The chairman of the influential House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, urged the Biden administration to be less ambiguous about what he called a US obligation to defend Taiwan against attack from China.

November 10 – The United States and its allies would take unspecified “measures” if China used force to change the status quo on Taiwan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Jan. 28, 2022 – China and the United States could end up in a military conflict if the United States pushes for Taiwanese independence, the Chinese ambassador to the United States said in an interview with American radio.

(Editing by Robert Birsel and Hugh Lawson)