At a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Biden was asked if the United States would go further than Ukraine to help Taiwan if there was an invasion of Taiwan.
“For obvious reasons, you don’t want to be involved militarily in the Ukrainian conflict. If it comes to that, are you willing to be involved militarily in defending Taiwan?” a reporter asked.
“Yes,” Biden replied. “That’s a promise we made.”
“We agreed with the one-China policy. We signed it, and all the relevant agreements from there, but thought it was (just not) appropriate that it could be by force, just by force,” he said.
Under the “one China” policy, the United States recognizes China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never formally recognized Beijing’s claim to the self-governing island of 23 million people. The United States provides Taiwan with defensive weapons, but has been deliberately ambiguous about whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.
On his first trip to Asia as president, Biden issued a strong warning at the door of China. The visit is aimed at uniting allies and partners in dealing with China’s growing influence. It also comes a day before Biden plans to attend the second in-person summit of the Quad, an informal group between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that has alarmed Beijing.
Several senior Biden administration officials were caught off guard by the remarks, several aides told CNN, adding that they did not expect Biden to be so explicit.
After Biden’s comments, a White House official said in a statement that the official U.S. position remained unchanged.
“As the President said, our policy has not changed. He reaffirmed our one-China policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reaffirmed our commitment to provide Taiwan with military means for self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act. ” the official said.
China expresses ‘resolute opposition’ to remarks
Within hours, China expressed “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to Biden’s remarks, saying it would not allow any external forces to interfere in its “internal affairs.”
“On issues involving China’s core interests such as sovereignty and territorial integrity, there is no room for compromise,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry.
“We urge the U.S. side to earnestly abide by the one-China principle… to be cautious in words and deeds on the Taiwan issue, and not to send any wrong signals to the separatist forces for Taiwan independence, so as not to cause serious damage.” On the situation in the Taiwan Strait and Sino-U.S. relations. “
Taiwan is less than 110 miles (177 km) from the Chinese coast. The two sides have been governing 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 “unification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and has refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have reached their highest level in decades, with the Chinese military sending a record number of warplanes near the island.
“We sincerely welcome and thank President Biden and the U.S. administration for their reaffirmation of their rock-solid commitment to Taiwan,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Eugene Oroni told CNN.
Biden compares possible invasion of Taiwan to Ukraine war
Biden on Monday compared China’s possible invasion of Taiwan to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, warning that “it will disrupt the entire region” and stressing that “Russia will have to pay a long-term price for its actions.”
“The reason I bother to say this is not just about Ukraine – if, in fact, after all (Russian President Vladimir Putin has) done it, there is a reconciliation between Ukraine and Russia … and these sanctions will not Continue to maintain in multiple ways, so what signal does that send to China about the price of trying to take Taiwan by force?”
Biden said China is “flying so close, and all the drills they’re doing, they’re already flirting with danger now.”
“But the U.S. committed, we committed, we supported the one-China policy, we supported everything we’ve done in the past, but it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean China has the ability, there, sorry, jurisdiction to enter and use force to take over Taiwan,” he added.
At the press conference, Kishida also reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
“Attempts to change the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, must not be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in East Asia,” he said.
“As the regional security environment becomes increasingly challenging, I reiterate with President Biden that we need to rapidly strengthen the deterrence and response of the Japan-U.S. alliance,” adding that he expressed his “fundamental strengthening of Japan’s defense capabilities.” Determination. “
This story has been updated with additional reports and reactions.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.