“Strategic ambiguity” … What is the US position on Taiwan?

U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent statements about the possibility that the United States will respond militarily to defend Taiwan if China tries to seize it by force shed light on a long history of U.S. foreign policy with this file, and Washington’s position on Taiwan , which is described as ambiguous, before Biden showed some Shift and then his assistants tried to explain this position in relation to the fixed position of the issue.

The roots of the issue go back to 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of China’s ruling nationalist Kuomintang Party, fled to Taiwan and formed a separate government after losing the war against Communist forces led by Mao Zedong. .

From there, Chiang continued to claim the whole of China, in exchange for the continent’s claim to Taiwan as part of its territory, and not to exclude the use of force to restore it.

The official name of Taiwan remained the “Republic of China” while the mainland was called the “People’s Republic of China”.

For decades after Chiang fled to the island, Washington regarded the leaders of Taipei (the capital of Taiwan) as the legitimate government of China, and there were no official relations with Beijing before that position changed in 1979.

In 1992, the KMT-led Taiwanese government agreed with mainland China that there was “one China” without changing reality on the ground.

Since the late 1990s, Taiwan has transformed from an authoritarian rule into a vibrant democracy and a clear Taiwanese identity has emerged that advocates independence.

While the Taiwanese approach to mainland China supports it, especially in the area of ​​trade, most of them reject “unity” with it.

The current ruling party, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, views Taiwan as a sovereign state and not part of China. With China’s increasingly hostile rhetoric in recent years, the popularity of the Taiwanese independence movement has increased.

The US position has changed

In 1979, the United States, led by Jimmy Carter, revoked the recognition of the “Republic of China” and recognized the Beijing government as the sole representative of China, but it refused to recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, according to the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) website.

This means that Washington does not agree with Beijing’s claim to sovereignty, nor does it agree with Taipei that the “Republic of China” is an independent and sovereign state.

Thus, the United States maintained formal relations with the People’s Republic of China and informal relations with Taiwan.

Successive U.S. administrations have emphasized the “one China” policy, that is, acknowledging that Taiwan is part of China without Beijing’s sovereignty over it, which has made it possible to maintain stability in the Strait of Taiwan, and the two sides left to work on a solution without violence used to change the situation, according to AFP.

The continent became a major trading partner of the United States, but at the same time, the United States retained support for Taiwan in several ways.

After the recognition of the People’s Republic of China, the US Congress passed the “Taiwan Relations Act”, which regulates relations with the island and the security and trade interests of the United States.

The U.S. State Department says Taiwan is “as a leading democracy and technological powerhouse a key United States partner in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Under a congressional law, the United States is required to sell military supplies to Taiwan to ensure its self-defense against the larger armed forces in Beijing.

The United States supports Taiwan in gaining membership of international organizations when state capture is not a requirement, according to the ministry.

In theory, there is no official US embassy in Taipei, but Washington operates a center there called the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which provides consular services, and according to the US State Department, it is a non-governmental organization authorized to implement the United States’ informal relations with Taiwan. “

The State Department says that although there is no diplomatic representation, “we enjoy a strong informal relationship as well as a lasting interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Strait of Taiwan.”

Taiwan has a so-called “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representation Office (TECRO)” in Washington, DC, with branches across the United States.

The United States and Taiwan have “deep and growing” trade and financial relations, and Taiwan is the eighth largest trading partner of the United States, and the latter is Taiwan’s second largest trading partner. Taiwanese investment in the United States reached nearly $ 137 billion in 2020.

The two parties hold periodic meetings for economic cooperation and job creation, as well as cooperation in the medical, scientific and educational fields.

Taiwan is the seventh largest source of international students to the United States, and in 2012 became a member of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

Although they do not have a reciprocal defense treaty, the United States sells military equipment to Taiwan and “provides defense equipment and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain adequate self-defense capability,” according to the State Department.

At the same time, “the United States continues to encourage the peaceful resolution of differences” between Taiwan and China.

“strategic ambiguity”

Over the past few decades, Washington has maintained a so-called “strategic ambiguity” over whether to intervene militarily on the island, a policy designed to ward off a Chinese invasion and discourage Taiwan from declaring formal independence.

AFP says there is a growing bipartisan debate in Washington over whether a shift to “strategic clarity” is best now, given Beijing’s increasingly hostile approach to Taiwan over the past few years.

When asked if the United States would intervene militarily in response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, he replied, “Yes, that’s the commitment we made.”

A White House official later said that US policy had not changed and that Biden “reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”

In an attempt to explain Biden’s position, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Biden’s latest comments “emphasized our obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act to help provide him with the means to defend himself. “

“President Biden has not announced any change in US policy towards Taiwan,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Bryson said on Tuesday.

And the American station ABC says that “confusion” is a reminder of Washington’s position of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to Taiwan, which aims to “make China guess what exactly the United States is going to do, if any.” an invasion is ”.

This is the third time Biden has caused a sensation with his remarks about protecting Taiwan. He said in an interview last August that the US relationship with it looks like Washington’s commitment to NATO to defend its members against attacks.

“We have an obligation” to defend Taiwan, Biden said last October.

While White House officials tried on both occasions to soften his words, Biden said it again, this time from near China and Taiwan, when he visited Japan.

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