President Joe Biden said that Taiwan “makes its own decisions, backing the island’s leaders anew after a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping intended to stabilize the tense relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
“We made very clear we support the Taiwan Act, and that’s it Biden told reporters Tuesday during a trip to New Hampshire, referring to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.
“It’s independent. It makes its own decisions, he added.
Biden said that the US remains committed to its “One China policy, according to a White House statement on Monday’s summit. Biden reminded Xi during the meeting that he voted as a senator to support Taiwan’s self-defense when the two discussed the island, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.
“The two leaders spent a good amount of time on the question of Taiwan, Sullivan said at a Brookings Institution event on Tuesday.
The act established that the US will support Taiwan’s self-defense with weapons sales and discourage any attempt by China to retake the island by force.
Sullivan was one of the few officials who participated in the summit, which lasted three and a half hours. US officials said the discussion was candid and respectful.
“It was a good meeting, Biden said. “We’ve got a lot of follow up on, we set up four groups, we’re going to get our folks together on a whole range of issues. I’ll have more to report to you in the next two weeks.
As anticipated, the conversation between Biden and Xi was mostly aimed at setting the rules of engagement between the world’s two largest economies, in an effort to avoid unintended military conflict or economic damage. China and the US have been at odds over Taiwan, the South China Sea, trade and human rights, among other issues.
The leaders also discussed how their countries “can work together to ensure global energy supply and price volatility do not imperil the global economic recovery, Sullivan said. “The two presidents tasked their teams to coordinate on this issue expeditiously.
Biden said in a CNN town hall last month that the US would defend Taiwan if the island’s status quo was changed unilaterally, a statement the White House later clarified was only reiterating longstanding US policy. For decades, the US has practiced what’s known as “strategic ambiguity, declining to explicitly promise to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack but also holding out the possibility that it might.
Chinese readouts of the leaders’ meeting said Biden was opposed to Taiwan’s independence and said Xi warned that those playing with fire around Taiwan “would inevitably burn themselves.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry accused Beijing of “purposely mischaracterizing Biden’s statements.