Washington, Oct 22 (EFE).- The United States government stated Friday that it has not changed its policy with respect to Taiwan, clarifying its stance after President Joe Biden said his country would come to the Asian island’s defense if it were attacked by China.
“Our policy has not changed,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the matter at her daily press conference. “He was not intending to convey a change in policy, nor has he made a decision to change our policy.”
She noted that under the military provisions of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act the US is to help the Taiwanese maintain “a sufficient self-defense capability.”
“Another principle is that the United States would regard any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific and of grave concern to the United States,” Psaki said.
Biden said Thursday night during a live CNN town hall that the US has a “commitment” to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack by China, which officially regards the island as a rebel region.
“China, Russia and the rest of the world know we have the most powerful military in the history of the world,” the US president said.
The unambiguous remark raised eyebrows because it conflicted with Washington’s longstanding posture of so-called “strategic ambiguity,” under which the US has not explicitly said what its response would be to Chinese military action against Taiwan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing urges the US to refrain from provocative statements like the ones expressed by Biden.
“We urge the US to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and stipulations in the three China-US joint communiques, be prudent with its words and actions on the Taiwan question and avoid sending wrong signals to … separatist forces, lest it should seriously damage China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang said.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said for his part in remarks from Brussels that Washington will continue to provide Taiwan with the “sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself,” but he refused to “engage in any hypotheticals” regarding a US response to Chinese military action against the island.
“Nobody wants to see cross-strait issues come to blows, certainly not President Biden, and there’s no reason that it should,” Austin said.
Taiwan, which has been self-ruled since 1949 and regards itself as a sovereign entity, is a key source of friction between China and the US, the island’s biggest weapons supplier.
Tensions between the two superpowers have grown in recent weeks in the wake of Chinese military plane activity in airspace near Taiwan and a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month that a small contingent of US special forces and marines have been deployed on that Asian island for at least a year to secretly train local forces.