wall street journal
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN’s Phil Mattingly during a White House press briefing on Tuesday that Biden had answered a “hypothetical question” on “60 Minutes” about “when the President of the United States has a policy.” Wants to announce change, he said. Will do that. He hasn’t done that.”
Sullivan reiterated that the White House stands behind the “One China” policy and said that Biden has “at every opportunity reiterated the basic commitments that he has talked about in Taiwan – in this interview where he specifically and Strongly and clearly reinforced and reiterated the One China Policy.”
Under the “One China” policy, the US accepts China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized the Communist Party’s claim to the self-governing island of 23 million. The US provides Taiwan with defensive weapons, but intentionally remains unclear whether it will intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.
Biden reiterated his commitment to the “One China” policy in a “60 Minutes” interview. But asked if US forces would defend the island, he said: “Yes, if there was indeed an unprecedented attack.”
Biden’s remarks to “60 Minutes” were not the first time he moved from a longstanding US approach to defending Taiwan. Most recently, during a visit to Tokyo in May, Biden said the US would intervene militarily if China attempted to take Taiwan by force.
“He was asked a question – a hypothetical question in this interview. He was asked a very similar question in Tokyo in May,” Sullivan said on Tuesday. “He gave a similar answer in May in Tokyo in a ’60 Minutes’ interview. After that answer in Tokyo, someone specifically asked him, ‘Have you just announced a major policy change? ‘ And he said ‘No, I didn’t.’ I have answered a hypothetical question. I have not announced a policy change.'”
Asked by Mattingly whether Biden was sending a clear message to China by answering a hypothetical question on the matter, Sullivan said, “The president is a straight and straight person. He gave a hypothetical answer.”
The president’s comments to CBS come amid rising tensions between China and Taiwan, along with repeated attempts by the White House to downplay what he said.
Taiwan is located less than 110 miles (177 kilometers) off the coast of China. The two sides have ruled separately for more than 70 years, but that hasn’t stopped China’s ruling Communist Party from claiming the island as its own – despite never having control over it.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said a “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at their highest in recent decades, with Chinese forces conducting major military exercises near the island.
Beijing sharply condemned Biden’s comments on Monday and reiterated its warning that China reserves the “option to take all necessary measures” to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
China’s foreign ministry said, “The US comment seriously violates the One-China principle and the provisions of the three US-China joint communiqués. It also seriously violates the important commitment made by the US side to not support Taiwan’s independence.” Is.” spokesman Mao Ning said at a briefing.
“This sent a serious wrong signal to the separatist forces of Taiwan’s independence. China expressed its strong dissatisfaction and strong opposition and made serious representation to the American side,” Mao said.
Beijing also strongly opposed US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. Beijing responded to his visit by suspending all talks with the US on key issues, from climate change to military ties, while holding extensive military drills around Taiwan.
According to US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Mark Langford, the US ship conducted the transit “in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver”.
Tuesday’s transit marked the second time in just three weeks that a US Navy warship had made the voyage.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats are defending Biden after his “60 Minutes” remark and Republicans are criticizing it.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine told CNN that while U.S. policy hasn’t changed, “we’re going to help Taiwan defend itself, and it’s our policy that should it ever come and God willing, it never will.” No, it never does. But you see what we’re doing in terms of providing military aid to Taiwan and we’re going to continue that and they need to know that if China goes unnoticed against them America is going to live there.”
Pressing on how this aligns with the historical position of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, Kaine claimed that the president’s saying one thing and administration officials say there could be a calculated inconsistency.
However, Republicans are arguing that America appears disorganized because of the incompatibility.
“It has been our policy not to come out and say we will go to war,” said James Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Ranking. “And the president made a statement that I think his advisers, I believe, disagreed, but he keeps repeating it over and over again.”
“It just looks… sloppy,” said Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. “I think it’s embarrassing, frankly.”
Hawley used this opportunity to push for more investment to prepare the US to join militarily if needed.
“We need to tell the American people the truth, that we are not in a position to prevent a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. We are not. That’s why we need to be, because it is not in our direct national security interests. Sino-Pacific controls,” he said. “So we have to be in a position to help the Taiwanese defend themselves, and we’re not in that position right now and it’s time to reconcile with the American people about this.”
CNN’s Manu Raju, Morgan Rimmer, Kevin Liptak, Brad Lendon, Ellie Kaufman and Barbara Star contributed to this report.