Beijing has hit out at President Joe Biden’s latest comments that the United States would defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — saying they “severely violate” Washington’s policy towards the island.
“The US remarks… severely violate the important commitment the US made not to support Taiwan independence, and send a seriously erroneous signal to Taiwanese separatist independence forces,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing.
In an interview, President Biden was asked whether US troops would defend Taiwan, and replied “yes”, if it were “an unprecedented attack”.
Washington cut formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, switching recognition to Beijing as the sole representative of China. But at the same time, the United States maintained a decisive, if delicate, role in supporting Taiwan.
“We are willing to make the biggest sincere efforts to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification,” Mao said Monday.
“At the same time, we will never tolerate any activities aimed at splitting the country, and reserve the choice to take all necessary measures.”
Tensions between China and the US are already higher than usual in the wake of a rare visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, a key Biden ally and speaker of the House of Representatives.
Last week, a US Senate committee took the first step towards directly providing billions of dollars in military aid to Taiwan and making ties more official.
“We urge the US side to fully recognise the extreme importance and high sensitivity of the Taiwan question… (and) earnestly implement the commitment made by US leaders not to support Taiwanese independence,” Mao added.
In another tough message to the United States’ biggest economic and geopolitical rival, Biden said he had warned President Xi Jinping not to support Russia militarily in its invasion of Ukraine.
He said he told Xi that US and other foreign investment in China would be disrupted and to think otherwise would be “a gigantic mistake.”
He also said that if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses nuclear or other non-conventional weapons against Ukraine, the US response will be “consequential”. When asked what he would tell Putin if the Russian leader was mulling such a move, he said: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.”
Biden praised the Ukrainians for their gritty fight against the huge Russian invasion and said “they’re defeating Russia”.
Asked how to define victory for Kyiv, he said “winning the war in Ukraine is to get Russia out of Ukraine completely.”
But given the scale of human suffering and destruction inflicted in resisting the Russian onslaught, “it’s awful hard to count that as winning,” he added.
Despite his poor ratings and polls showing Democrats are likely to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress, Biden said he is upbeat.
Noting that employment is booming and the economy is strong, Biden said “we hope we can have, as they say, a soft landing.”
On whether at his age he is physically and mentally able to continue in the gruelling job, Biden said: “watch me.”
— with AFP