Biden says no ‘imminent’ China plan to invade Taiwan

Published November 15, 2022, 7:51 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

NUSA DUA, Indonesia – US President Joe Biden said Monday he did not believe China had “imminent” plans to invade Taiwan as he gave an upbeat assessment of talks with President Xi Jinping.

US President Joe Biden holds a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, November 14, 2022. SAUL LOEB / AFP

“I do not think there is any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan,” Biden told a news conference after the talks in Bali.

“I made it clear that we want to see cross-strait issues peacefully resolved, and so it never has to come to that,” Biden said.

“I’m convinced that he understood exactly what I was saying; I understood what he was saying.”

But Biden himself has sowed confusion in the past by saying three times that the United States was prepared to use force if China invades Taiwan — an apparent shift from the longstanding US ambiguity on how it would respond.

Biden stayed on message in Bali, saying: “I made it clear that our policy on Taiwan has not changed at all. It’s the same exact position we had”.

US officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said in recent months that China appears to be speeding up its timeframe to take Taiwan, a self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing.

China staged major military exercises in August, seen as a trial run for an invasion after a defiant visit of solidarity to Taipei by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second in line to the White House.

The Chinese foreign ministry noted Biden’s assurances and called on the United States to “match its words with action and abide by the One-China policy” of recognising only Beijing.

Xi “stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” it said.

The United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but sells weapons to Taiwan for its self-defence.

A growing number of US lawmakers have called for going further, including by directly sending military aid to Taiwan, saying that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the need for early preparation.

In a statement, the White House said that Biden voiced objections to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan, which undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region, and jeopardise global prosperity”.