Focus: Mr. Comments. Biden on defense of Taiwan, suggesting a shift to “support for independence” | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden made another detailed comment about the Taiwan issue in an interview with CBS on Wednesday. News headlines announced that US forces would defend Taiwan if China attacked.

On September 19, US President Biden (pictured) made a detailed comment about the Taiwan issue in an interview on CBS television that was broadcast the day before. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

But more importantly, Biden could also be interpreted as suggesting a change in US policy towards independence in favor of Taiwan.

The White House is desperate to explain that there will be no change in US policy after Mr Biden’s comments. But some experts said that Mr. Biden may have undermined, intentionally or not, the traditional US stance of non-commitment to Taiwan independence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has long vowed to bring Taiwan under his control, and has threatened to use military force to do so. Taiwan’s government has strongly opposed China’s claim that it is “part of its own territory,” but has sent the message that Taiwan is already a de facto independent country and does not need to declare independence yet.

US officials such as Secretary of State Brinken and Defense Secretary Austin also emphasized this year that the US does not support Taiwan’s independence. This has been a painstaking diplomatic effort in the United States over the past decades to dissuade Beijing from “spontaneous aggression” while persuading Taiwan not to formally declare independence.

However, Biden said on the CBS “60 Minutes” program, “Taiwan will make its own decisions about independence. We as the United States are not pushing for independence for Taiwan. That is their decision.”

Biden’s critics say Beijing will see him as tacitly supporting Taiwan’s declaration of independence. He also pointed out that since China is likely to assume that the United States will move to defend Taiwan, the downside of escalating hostilities on China’s part would be greater than the effect of specifically declaring that it would defend Taiwan.

Craig Singleton, a China expert at the Institute for Defense of Democracies think tank, said, “Although he says that US policy on Taiwan will not change, the US military has pledged to defend Taiwan and Taiwan has the right to make independent decisions . a contradiction to admit that,” he said, adding that China was likely concerned that Mr Biden had suggested that Taiwan could decide for itself whether it would become independent.

Some Republicans, including Senator Ben Sass, praised Mr Biden’s comments and accused the White House of supporting them. On the other hand, a spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) insisted that the president had directly confirmed the long-standing one-China policy of the United States.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it was “sincerely grateful” to Biden for his unwavering support for his comments.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington warned that the US should not send false signals to Taiwanese separatists and endanger peace in the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations.

Jude Blanchett, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said Mr Biden’s comments confused rather than clarified US policy.

He added, “One of the issues where correct language is the most important is the issue of Taiwan policy. Our foreign policy is basically in the direction of the United States defending Taiwan even if Taiwan declares independence. ” If it turns into 60 Minutes interview, then it’s a topic that deserves a more robust discussion than just an interview.”

(Reporting by Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom)

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