A senior Biden administration official said that US policy on Taiwan had not changed after President Joe Biden appeared to suggest that the United States would defend the island if attacked, a departure from a US position of “strategic ambiguity.” long-standing.
In an interview broadcast by ABC News on Thursday, Biden was asked about the effects of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and responses from Chinese media telling Taiwan that this showed that Washington could not be trusted to come out. in your defense.
Biden responded that Taiwan, South Korea, and NATO were fundamentally different situations than Afghanistan and seemed to lump Taiwan together with countries with which Washington has explicit defense commitments.
“They are … entities with which we have made agreements based not on a civil war that they are having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement in which they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep the bad guys from doing bad things to them, ”said the president.
“We have made and fulfilled all the commitments. We made a sacred commitment to Article 5 that if someone did in fact invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. The same with Japan, the same with South Korea, the same with Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about it. “
A senior official in the Biden administration said later Thursday that “US policy regarding Taiwan has not changed” and analysts said it appeared that Biden had been wrong.
The Chinese embassy in Washington and the Taiwan representative office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but has long pursued a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
Article 5 is a NATO agreement that states that an attack on one member of the alliance is considered an attack on everyone.
South Korea is also a US treaty ally with a mutual defense agreement, but US relations with Taiwan, claimed by China, have not been official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.
Some prominent American academics and others have argued that Washington should grant Taiwan a more explicit security guarantee in light of mounting military pressure from Beijing. But Biden’s Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell appeared to reject this, saying in May there were “significant downsides” to such an approach.
Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund in the United States, called Biden’s apparent mischaracterization “unfortunate.”
“The United States had an Article 5 commitment to Taiwan from 1954 to 1979. The Biden administration is not considering returning to that commitment, as Kurt Campbell’s public statements indicate.”
Earlier this week, Republican Senator John Cornyn mistakenly tweeted that the United States has 30,000 troops in Taiwan, which has not been the case since before 1979.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was asked about Taiwan this week, calling it a “fundamentally different question in a different context” to Afghanistan.
“We believe that our commitment to Taiwan … remains as strong as ever,” he said, without specifying what the commitment was.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism