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Biden Declares US Does Not Support Taiwan’s Independence

Anastasia Boushee
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On Saturday, President Joe Biden declared in response to a reporter’s question that the United States does “not support independence” for Taiwan.

Biden’s comment came after Taiwan voted for pro-sovereignty candidate Dr. Lai Ching-te as its new president. Lai has advocated for Taiwanese independence and declared the election a choice between war and peace. He was strongly opposed by the Chinese Communist Party.

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Taiwan’s ballots were counted publicly in their election, with videos circulating on social media showing ballot counters holding up each individual ballot and showing it to everyone in the room. Anyone is allowed to come into the room and film the process, according to reports.

Biden’s shocking declaration that his administration does not support Taiwanese independence in the aftermath of a clear victory for a pro-sovereignty candidate prompted concerns around the world. Despite these concerns, the White House’s “clarification” of the president’s statement still affirmed that the Biden administration did not support an independent Taiwan — though it does expect differences between China and Taiwan to be settled peacefully.

Despite Biden’s comments, other U.S. officials congratulated Lai on his victory, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We congratulate Dr. Lai Ching-te on his victory in Taiwan’s presidential election. We also congratulate the Taiwan people for participating in free and fair elections and demonstrating the strength of their democratic system,” Blinken wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) also congratulated Lai for his win, noting that he was “happy to see democracy thriving among the Taiwanese people.”

“The United States is eager to work with President-elect Lai and build on the strong partnership we’ve enjoyed with President Tsai,” he wrote in a post on X.

Johnson went on to announce that he would be “asking the chairs of the relevant House Committees to lead a delegation to Taipei following Lai’s inauguration in May” as part of an effort to “underscore the ongoing commitment of Congress to security and democracy.”

“I am hopeful the United States and Taiwan together will continue promoting the principles of liberty, opportunity, and security for all freedom-loving countries and our partners in the Indo-Pacific,” he added.

Meanwhile, Biden has sent mixed messages about Taiwan throughout his presidency. While he now claims that he does not support independence, he stated unequivocally in May 2022 that the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily should China try to use force to take back the island.

“That’s the commitment we made. We are not — look, here’s the situation: we agree with the One China policy, we’ve signed onto it, and all of the attendant agreements made from there,” Biden said at the time. “But the idea that, that it could be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not appropriate. It will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it’s a burden that is even stronger.”

Following those comments, the White House again issued a clarification — claiming that Biden did not mean what he said, and was actually just reiterating “our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself” similar to what has been done with Ukraine in its war with Russia.

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