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Biden says US doesn’t support Taiwan independence after vote

Taiwan's President-elect Lai Ching-te, middle, addresses supporters as he stands with his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim, right, during a rally outside the headquarters of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taipei on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, after Lai won the presidential election. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
January 15, 2024

President Joe Biden said the U.S. did not support independence for Taiwan, after voters there defied China and returned the governing Democratic Progressive Party — which has sought to limit Beijing’s influence — to a third consecutive term.

“We do not support independence,” Biden told reporters Saturday as he departed the White House for Camp David.

The president’s comment appears intended to assuage concerns in China, who had hoped Taiwan’s current vice president, Lai Ching-te, would not be elected president. Results showed Lai, who has maintained close ties with the U.S., edging out Hou Yu-ih of the opposition Nationalist Party, who had pledged to expand trade and diplomacy with China.

China has long claimed that the island of Taiwan is its territory, and President Xi Jinping has advocated for unification and refused to rule out a military intervention.

The U.S. has traditionally adopted a policy of strategic ambiguity, where it acknowledges China’s historical claims to sovereignty over Taiwan and maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan while pledging defense assistance to the island. Still, suggestions by Biden that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan have roiled the relationship between the U.S. and Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the election shows the strength of Taiwan’s “robust democratic system” and reiterated that the U.S. “is committed to maintaining cross-Strait peace and stability, and the peaceful resolution of differences, free from coercion and pressure.”

The U.S. will work with Lai and all party leaders in Taiwan “to further our long-standing unofficial relationship” consistent with the U.S.’s one-China policy, he said in a statement.

House Speaker Mike Johnson will ask a delegation of House lawmakers to travel to Taipei after Lai’s inauguration in May, he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.


© 2024 Bloomberg L.P

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