Republicans are pressuring the White House to firmly commit to a clear response on defending Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, Newsweek reported.
The uproar from Republicans came after a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday, where President Joe Biden was asked if the United States would “get involved militarily” to defend Taiwan, and he responded, “that’s the commitment we made.”
But shortly after the president’s response, a White House official released a statement walking back the president’s comment.
“As the President said,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “our policy has not changed. He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
Republicans were aghast.
“Does anyone at the #WhiteHouse actually respect the words of @POTUS?” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted. “Biden said we would defend #Taiwan, and the staff AGAIN walks back the Presidents own words! He needs to fire everyone who does this.”
Kinzinger also referred to similar statements Biden made during a CNN town hall last year regarding the U.S. coming to Taiwan’s defense. During that time, a White House official clarified that Biden was “not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy” on China and Taiwan.
The U.S. “One China” policy recognizes the People’s Republic of China as China’s sole ruler but does not concede that China holds sovereignty over Taiwan, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Also, on Monday, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas gave a statement calling for the U.S. to pivot its Taiwan policy from one of “strategic ambiguity” to “strategic clarity.”
“As usual,” Cotton’s statement read, “strategic clarity and military strength is the best way to deter China. Given President Biden’s apparent policy shift in off-the-cuff remarks at a press conference in Japan, followed by anonymous White House aides trying to ‘walk back’ his statement, it’s now essential that President Biden restate our new policy of strategic clarity in clear, deliberate remarks from a prepared text.”
“Otherwise, the continued ambiguity and uncertainty will likely provoke the Chinese communists without deterring them—the worst of both worlds.”
Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott also added his take.
“Twice @POTUS has said America would defend Taiwan if invaded, and twice the White House has walked it back,” Scott tweeted. “The Senate should take Biden at his word, end the confusion and pass my Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act to clearly say that we have Taiwan’s back.”
On Monday, China warned that the U.S. is “playing with fire.”