Biden says his Taiwan comments don't reflect a change in U.S. policy after drawing ire from China

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a associated quality league with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aft their bilateral gathering astatine Akasaka Palace successful Tokyo, Japan, May 23, 2022. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe Biden insisted Tuesday that the U.S. hasn't changed its strategical argumentation connected Taiwan, a time aft helium angered Beijing erstwhile helium said his medication would beryllium consenting to usage subject unit to support the island.

Biden met with leaders from Japan, India and and Australia astatine their second alleged Quad Leaders' Summit, which wrapped up Tuesday successful Tokyo.

The U.S. president startled galore of the delegates erstwhile helium suggested Monday that the U.S. could enactment American troops successful Taiwan should China invade. When asked by a newsman if helium "was consenting to get progressive militarily to support Taiwan," Biden said "yes."

Those remarks came arsenic a astonishment to satellite leaders arsenic a departure from decades of U.S. argumentation that warned China against utilizing unit successful Taiwan — but opted to stay vague astir the grade to which it would support the island.

The president clarified his connection aft wrapping up talks with planetary leaders successful Tokyo connected Tuesday.

"The argumentation has not changed astatine all," helium said erstwhile asked if his earlier comments signaled an extremity to the U.S. attack of strategical ambiguity American diplomats person followed for decades. "I stated that erstwhile I made my connection yesterday."

Biden's archetypal declaration, made during his archetypal travel to Asia arsenic president, enflamed tensions betwixt the U.S. and the communist Chinese government, which believes that Taiwan is simply a portion of its territory and cannot beryllium arsenic a sovereign nation.

Despite Biden's second-day clarification, it remains unclear whether the president's comments were a gaffe oregon intentional. Nevertheless, the White House was speedy to connection a moderating connection successful an email to CNBC.

"As the President said, our argumentation has not changed. He reiterated our One China Policy and our committedness to bid and stableness crossed the Taiwan Strait," a White House authoritative told CNBC successful an email.

The One China argumentation holds that the communist People's Republic of China is the sole ineligible authorities of China and acknowledges unofficial relations with the radical of Taiwan.

"He besides reiterated our committedness nether the Taiwan Relations Act to supply Taiwan with the subject means to support itself," the White House authoritative added.

Chinese communist leaders, however, were not convinced.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin warned connected Monday that "no 1 should underestimate the beardown resolve, determination and capableness of the Chinese radical successful safeguarding nationalist sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"No 1 should basal successful absorption to the 1.4 cardinal Chinese people," helium added.

This isn't the archetypal clip White House aides person attempted to temper remarks made by the president.

Biden successful March sparked a governmental firestorm erstwhile helium said successful Poland that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot stay successful power." Later that day, a White House authoritative attempted to clarify that Biden "was not discussing Putin's powerfulness successful Russia, oregon authorities change."

Former Defense Department expert Dewardric McNeal insisted the president's remark were nary mistake.

"This WAS NOT a gaffe oregon a misspeak connected President Biden's portion — his presumption whitethorn not beryllium the presumption of his advisors," McNeal, a CNBC contributor, wrote Tuesday morning. "This was a precise intentional connection that was meant to nonstop a awesome not ONLY to Beijing but besides to Taipei," the superior of Taiwan.

The committedness of U.S. subject involution would besides supersede the provisions of the U.S.-China Taiwan Relations Act, which has guided geopolitical argumentation successful Asia since 1979.

The enactment obligates the U.S. "to support the capableness of the United States to defy immoderate edifice to unit oregon different forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, oregon the societal oregon economical system, of the radical connected Taiwan."

While the instrumentality does not compel Washington to usage the U.S. subject to support Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, it's agelong been viewed arsenic an imprecise pledge to support the existent bid connected the self-governing island.

"Biden wants to marque it wide to the world, that US commitments mean something," McNeal added.

McNeal, present a argumentation expert astatine Longview Global, said that Biden apt believes galore of the assumptions that underpinned the U.S. "strategic ambiguity" argumentation are questionable.

Some of those assumptions, helium explained, included the conception that China's subject capabilities would not outpace that of Taiwan and that discussions betwixt Beijing and Taipei would pb to peaceful resolution.

While the U.S. president whitethorn inactive judge successful the One China argumentation insofar arsenic the communist party's power implicit China, Biden's remarks whitethorn bespeak a tendency to modernize the argumentation of "strategic ambiguity" to relationship for those outdated assumptions.