WH Scrambles After Joe Biden Vows ‘Sacred Commitment’ to Defend Taiwan

Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty, Drew Angerer/Getty

The White House moved swiftly this week to clarify President Joe Biden’s comments regarding military action to defend Taiwan, which broke with the United States’ longstanding “strategic ambiguity” toward the island nation.

In a Wednesday interview with ABC News, Biden vowed that the U.S. would “respond” if China invaded Taiwan when asked about critics pointing to the grossly mismanaged Afghanistan withdrawal as a sign that his administration may not be up to defending its Asian ally. Biden appeared to draw a parallel between the U.S.’s commitment to Taiwan to its formal treaty obligations with NATO countries.

“There’s a fundamental difference between–between Taiwan, South Korea, NATO,” the president told anchor George Stephanopoulos. “We are in a situation where they are in–entities we’ve made agreements with based on not a civil war they’re having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement where they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep bad guys from doin’ bad things to them.”

Biden then said the United States is bound by a “sacred commitment” to defend its NATO allies, before saying the “same” applied to other countries, including Taiwan:

We have made–kept every commitment. We made a sacred commitment to Article 5 that if, in fact, anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with– Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about that.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states, “an armed attack against one or more of them [NATO allies] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” It requires military action to defend one nation from all treaty members. The first-ever invocation of the article prompted the coalition to invade Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A senior administration stressed after the interview that despite Biden’s comments, the U.S. policy on Taiwan “has not changed.”

“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, as it has been for the past 40 years, and is based on an assessment of Taiwan’s defense needs and the threat posed by the PRC. We continue to have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and we consider this central to the security and stability of the broader Indo-Pacific region,” the official told the Washington Examiner Thursday.

On Tuesday, China’s state-run Global Times warned that if U.S.  troops are present in Taiwan when Beijing invades it, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will “crush them by force.”

As Breitbart News reported:

The Global Times was responding indignantly to a tweet from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in which he listed U.S. troop deployments around the world. Cornyn incorrectly stated in this tweet that 30,000 American soldiers are stationed in Taiwan, roughly the same amount stationed in South Korea. […]

The Global Times reiterated that if the U.S. “secretly stations” such a force in “China’s Taiwan island,” it would be considered an invasion and would “touch off a military conflict,” which America would surely lose.

“It is impossible for the U.S. to be silly enough to sacrifice itself to satisfy Taiwan separatists,” a professor of China Foreign Affairs University told the Chinese state-run newspaper.


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