'No room for compromise': China tells US to act with caution over Taiwan
China on Friday urged Washington to tread carefully on Taiwan after president Joe Biden said the US would defend the self-ruled island from attacks by Beijing. “China has no room for compromise on issues involving its core interests,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, warning that Washington “should act and speak cautiously on the Taiwan issue.”
Authoritarian China regards self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize the island, by force if needed. Beijing's saber-rattling has ramped up in recent years, exacerbating fears the island of 23 million people could become a major global flashpoint.
Joe Biden said on Thursday that the United States would defend Taiwan if the island were attacked by China, a declaration welcomed by the democratic island that risks fury from Beijing. However, Biden's statement was at odds with the long-held US policy known as "strategic ambiguity," where Washington helps build Taiwan's defenses but does not explicitly promise to come to the island's help. The policy is designed to deter a Chinese invasion and also discourage Taiwan from formally declaring independence, something Beijing regards as a red line.
At a CNN town hall on Thursday, Biden was asked whether the US would come to Taiwan's defence if China invaded. “Yes,” he responded. “We have a commitment to that.” Biden's comments were welcomed on Friday by Taiwan, which has pushed to bolster international alliances to protect itself from Beijing.
“The US government has demonstrated, through actual actions, their rock-solid support for Taiwan,” presidential office spokesperson Xavier Chang said in a statement.
Biden had made a similar pledge in August during an interview with ABC, insisting that the US would always defend key allies, including Taiwan, despite the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the face of the victorious Taliban. The White House subsequently told reporters on both occasions that US policy on Taiwan “has not changed.”