1028: Biden on Defending Taiwan, China’s Misuse of UNGA Res 2758, Blinken’s Support for Taiwan’s U.N. Participation, Taiwan ASSURE Act

Biden Says U.S. Would Come to Taiwan’s Defense if China Attacks

On October 21, President Joe Biden said the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China attacked, in an apparent departure from a long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” on defending Taiwan. The White House, however, later said there was no change in policy toward Taiwan.

Asked at a CNN town hall if the U.S. “would come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacked,” Biden replied: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

People need not worry about the strength of the U.S. military, Biden stated. “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world,” he said, adding: “I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back.”

Over the years, the U.S. has sold arms to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act to help maintain Taiwan’s defense capability, but Washington has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether the U.S. would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of an attack by China.

Attempting to play down Biden’s remark on Taiwan after the town hall, a White House official said that “the President was not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy.”

“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the official added.

China expressed its displeasure anyway, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying that China urges the U.S. “not to send any wrong signals to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, to avoid seriously harming Sino-U.S. ties.”

Meanwhile, responding to Biden’s remark, a Taiwan’s Presidential Office spokesman said Taiwan government’s position remains the same, which is Taiwan will neither bow to Chinese pressure nor “act rashly” when it receives support.

Taiwan is committed to defending itself and will continue working with like-minded countries to contribute to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and Indo-Pacific region, the spokesman said, adding that the Biden administration’s continued concrete actions show the U.S.’s “rock-solid” support for Taiwan.

[1] CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/21/politics/taiwan-china-biden-town-hall/index.html
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202110220007
[3] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/biden-says-united-states-would-come-taiwans-defense-2021-10-22/

U.S. Lawmakers Denounce China’s Misuse of UNGA Resolution 2758 to Exclude Taiwan from U.N.

U.S. members of Congress are criticizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for misinterpreting the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 to exclude Taiwan from taking part in the U.N. system.

“For five long decades, the People’s Republic of China has sought to intentionally misuse, misinterpret and mislead others on the underlying purpose of UN Resolution 2758,” said Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a joint statement.

China has misrepresented the U.N. decision to undermine Taiwan’s standing and participation in the international community, according to their statement issued on October 25, which marked the 50th anniversary of the passage of the resolution.

The anniversary “should serve as a turning point to correct the continued injustice of Taiwan’s marginalization on the world stage,” the Senators said, adding that “Beijing should not be allowed to continue twisting history and isolating Taipei.”

The UNGA Resolution 2758, adopted in 1971, decided “to restore all its rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it.”

China has ramped up pressure on the U.N. and its affiliated agencies to prevent Taiwan’s participation, often erroneously citing Resolution 2758 to support Beijing’s so-called “One-China Principle,” which asserts that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, rejected Beijing’s rhetoric, describing it as “false claims” that should be rooted out from the U.N.

“Resolution 2758 does not say Taiwan is a part of China. It does not say China may represent Taiwan before the UN. It does not address Taiwan’s sovereignty — it doesn’t even include the word Taiwan,” McCaul said in a statement.

House Asian Subcommittee chairman Ami Bera (D-CA) and ranking member Steve Chabot (R-OH) echoed McCaul’s view in a joint statement issued on October 25.

Beijing’s attempts to impose the PRC’s “One-China Principle” on the U.N. system, and other U.N. member states have denied the global community the full benefit of Taiwan’s knowledge and resources, the representatives said.

“We oppose any ahistorical reinterpretations of UNGA Resolution 2758 (XXVI) that isolate Taiwan or impose Beijing’s views on other countries,” they said.

The comments by the Senators and Representatives came less than a week after an official from the Department of State denounced Beijing’s interpretation of the resolution.

“The People’s Republic of China has misused Resolution 2758 to prevent Taiwan’s meaningful participation” in the U.N., said Rick Waters, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, during a virtual talk hosted by the Washington-based German Marshall Fund on October 21.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202110260010
[2] Sens. Menendez & Inhofe’s Statement: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/chair/release/senators-menendez-inhofe-statement-on-anniversary-of-un-approval-of-resolution-2758
[3] Sen. McCaul’s Statement: https://gop-foreignaffairs.house.gov/press-release/mccaul-rejects-chinas-lies-about-taiwan-at-the-un/
[4] Reps. Bera & Chabot’s Statement: https://bera.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/reps-bera-and-chabot-statement-on-50th-anniversary-of-unga-resolution

Blinken Urges Support for Taiwan’s Participation in U.N. System

On October 26, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on all United Nations member states to support Taiwan’s “robust, meaningful participation” in the U.N. system, contesting Chinese pressure to block Taiwan’s access to international organizations.

In a statement, Blinken said Taiwan’s exclusion from the U.N. system “undermines the important work of the UN and its related bodies, all of which stand to benefit greatly from its contributions.” 

Blinken noted Taiwan has not been permitted to contribute to U.N. efforts nor been allowed to take part in U.N. specialized agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“That is why we encourage all UN member states to join us in supporting Taiwan’s robust, meaningful participation throughout the UN system and in the international community,” he said.

In response to Blinken’s comments, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in the U.S. said that China “will not accept” the U.S. challenging its “One-China Principle.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that “We will continue to work with the #US & other like-minded partners to overcome the challenges facing the international community,” while thanking Secretary Blinken for voicing support for Taiwan’s participation in the U.N. system.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202110270006
[2] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/blinken-urges-all-un-member-states-support-taiwan-participation-2021-10-26/
[3] Blinken’s Statement: https://www.state.gov/supporting-taiwans-participation-in-the-un-system/

“Taiwan ASSURE Act” Introduced to Reduce Risk of Conflict in the Taiwan Strait

On October 26, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chair of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced the “Taiwan Actions Supporting Security by Undertaking Regular Engagements Act” or the “Taiwan ASSURE Act” (S.3068), bipartisan legislation that aims at reducing the risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait by supporting dialogues to mitigate misunderstandings and promote transparency. 

The proposed legislation would authorize no less than 2 million in funds annually from 2022 through 2025 to support strategic dialogues facilitated by independent non-profit organizations in which participants meet to discuss cross-Taiwan Strait stability issues.

The bill would also allow the U.S. to provide annual funding of 6 million between 2022 and 2025 to the multilateral “Global Cooperation and Training Framework” (GCTF), a platform for Taiwan to share its expertise on issues with international partners.

The legislation also requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report evaluating the feasibility of establishing a partnership between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan’s Reserve Command, that will help Taiwan train its reserve forces to better defend against a potential Chinese invasion. 

The bill also calls for more U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, especially those that support Taiwan’s Overall Defense Concept, an asymmetric defense plan.

The bill is part of a larger bipartisan effort to protect Taiwan against Chinese aggression. “We must find ways to lower tensions and avoid miscalculation in the Taiwan Strait,” said Sen. Markey in a press release issued on October 22. The United States “must continue to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the international community and help the country withstand cross-Strait coercion, while taking clear action to avoid conflict in the region,” he added.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202110230007