US President Joe Biden on Monday said that his country would respond militarily if China invades Taiwan. Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Biden said ‘that’s the commitment we made’, reported news agency The Associated Press.
He said an effort by China to use force against Taiwan would ‘just not be appropriate’, saying it will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.
Under the ‘One China’ policy, the US recognises Beijing as the government of China and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, it maintains unofficial contacts with Taiwan, including a de facto embassy in Taipei, the capital. The U.S. also supplies military equipment for the island’s defence.
Biden’s comment is seen as one of the most forceful and overt statements in support of Taiwan in decades. Notably, China has long wondered how the world might react to a conflict in Taiwan in the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The US traditionally has avoided making such an explicit security guarantee to Taiwan, with which it no longer has a mutual defense treaty. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which has governed US relations with the island, does not require the US to step in militarily to defend Taiwan if China invades, but makes it American policy to ensure Taiwan has the resources to defend itself and to prevent any unilateral change of status in Taiwan by Beijing.
Biden’s comments were likely to draw a sharp response from the mainland, which has claimed Taiwan to be a rogue province. A White House official said Biden’s comments did not reflect a policy shift.
China’s military provocations against Taiwan
China has stepped up its military provocations against democratic Taiwan in recent years aimed at intimidating it into accepting Beijing’s demands to unify with the communist mainland.
“They’re already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers that are undertaken,” Biden said of China.
Biden said it is his ‘expectation’ that China would not try to seize Taiwan by force, but he said that assessment “depends upon just how strong the world makes clear that that kind of action is going to result in long-term disapprobation by the rest of the community.”