China has no ‘imminent’ plan to invade Taiwan

US President Joe Biden expressed optimism about his discussions with President Xi Jinping on Monday and said he did not think China had “imminent” plans to invade Taiwan.

“I do not think there is any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan,” Biden told a news conference after the talks in Bali.

Biden stated, “I made it clear that we want to see cross-strait issues peacefully resolved, and so it never has to come to that, I’m convinced that he understood exactly what I was saying; I understood what he was saying.” 

However, Biden has previously created confusion by asserting three times that the US would use force if China invaded Taiwan, which represents a change from the US’s longstanding ambiguity regarding its response.

Speaking about his conversation with Xi, Biden also stressed that, “I made it clear that our policy on Taiwan has not changed at all. It’s the same exact position we had”.

In recent months, US officials have claimed that China appears to be accelerating its timetable to annex Taiwan, a self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Major military drills were conducted by China in August, which were perceived as a practise invasion after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made a defiant solidarity visit to Taipei.

Biden’s assurances were taken into consideration by the Chinese foreign ministry, which urged the US to “match its words with action and abide by the One-China policy” by recognising only Beijing.

Xi “stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” it said.

In 1979, the United States switched its recognition from Taipei to Beijing, but it continues to sell Taiwan weapons for its defence.

As more US lawmakers have argued that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights the need for early preparation, they have called for going further, including by sending Taiwan directly military aid.

In a statement, the White House said that Biden voiced objections to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan, which undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region, and jeopardise global prosperity”.

Before their talks, the two leaders smiled and shook hands warmly in front of their national flags at a hotel on Indonesia’s Bali island.

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