Presidentish Joe Biden said in Tokyo on Monday that the US would “get involved militarily to defend Taiwan,” but now the Biden White House is scrambling to clarify what Biden really meant.
There he goes again.
PJ’s own Robert Spencer reminded out readers earlier today that “Old Joe has now, amid the fog of his semi-comprehension, made a commitment to Taiwan that the U.S. has not made in the past.”
That’s why the White House went almost immediately into Full-Bore Panic Mode.
“As the President said, our policy has not changed,” a White House official said according to a Daily Caller report. “He reiterated our One China policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
But that’s not what Biden said and of course the White House knows it — otherwise, there’d have been no need to clarify.
Maybe someone in the West Wing should establish an Office for Explaining What the President Had Really Meant to Say. Obviously, it would be a full-time, high-pressure job, presumably with a high turnover.
“That’s the commitment we made,” Biden told reporters when asked if the US would get involved “militarily” to protect the small island nation.
The US has never made such a commitment. Biden indicated the change in our commitment level himself when he told reporters that our longstanding “One China policy” and other “attendant agreements” had been affected by “what happened in Ukraine.”
Even the New York Times stood up and took notice.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry warned “the US side to earnestly follow the One China principle” and to “be cautious in words and deeds on the Taiwan issue, and not send any wrong signal to pro-Taiwan independence and separatist forces — so it won’t cause serious damage to the situation across the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations.”
“One China” has required the US to maintain a strategic ambiguity regarding just how far we’d go to protect the Taipei’s Republic of China from the Communist Chinese government on the mainland. American presidents have avoiding making any strict commitments to defending Taiwan, in order not to stir up a strong independence movement. But by not saying we wouldn’t defend Taiwan, Beijing has been effectively deterred while still saving face.
It’s a tricky balancing act, but it’s helped maintain the peace for 50 years.
That’s no small feat, but it was almost undone in moments by Biden’s big mouth.
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