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Blinken grilled on alleged disconnect with Biden on Taiwan post-China trip: ‘We are there for Taiwan’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, challenged on President Biden's past claims the U.S. would help defend Taiwan, said that America supports "One China" policy but is "there for Taiwan."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was grilled Wednesday on a perceived disconnect with President Biden and the White House regarding Taiwan after Blinken’s trip to Beijing. 

In a conversation to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s approach to foreign policy in New York City, moderator Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, somewhat challenged Blinken to provide clarity on the U.S. stance toward Taiwan after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Last week in Beijing, Blinken notably said the U.S. does not support Taiwanese independence. 

"So four times your boss, the President of the United States, has said that the U.S. would help defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China. And four times the White House staff has walked him back," Haas posed to Blinken. "So what is our policy and why? Why aren't we basically telling China -- within the context of ‘One China’ policy – ‘you've done things, increase the threat. We're going to do things to increase the -- your understanding that you cannot move against Taiwan with impunity.’" 


"Richard," Blinken began, drawing laughter from the audience as well as Haas, before repeating similar jargon he has repeated since traveling to China. "We continue to be guided by the 'One China' policy based on the three communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act and the six assurances. That hasn't changed and that won't change." 

"Mr. Secretary," Haas joked back with the formality, while politely challenging, "We can do all that and still increase the certainty that with which we communicate to China that we are there for Taiwan if they use coercion." 

"I think it's evident not only in what we're saying, but also what we're doing, that we are there for Taiwan," Blinken responded. "Under the Taiwan Relations Act, we've had a longstanding policy of making sure that we could do what's necessary to help Taiwan defend itself. That policy and the sort of rheostat on it also depends a lot on what Beijing is doing or not doing. And that was designed in from the get-go, including in the communiques." 


Earlier in the conversation, Blinken noted that Beijing has taken steps challenging the status quo on Taiwan since 2016, including through military operations, deployment of forces, exercises and military tests as well as through "economic coercion" exerted against Taiwan and countries that help Taiwan. The secretary cited how 50% of world commercial trade traffic travels through the Taiwan Strait each day, and 70% of the semiconductors "that we use from everything from our smartphones to our washing machines to our automobiles made on Taiwan." 

"If there were to be a crisis a result of actions that either side takes, that takes that offline," Blinken said. "You've got potentially a global economic crisis. It's one of the reasons, maybe the main reason that country after country is going to both of us and saying we expect the responsible management of this issue to be sustained. That's exactly where we are. And I tried to share that very clearly directly with our Chinese counterparts." 

Blinken assured that the administration's goal on U.S.-China relations remains to "co-exist peacefully." 

"The bottom line is this China is not going away. We're not going away. So in the instance, we have to find a way to coexist and coexist peacefully," Blinken said. "We know we're in an intense competition. We talked about the competition to try to shape the post-Cold War era. At the same time, we are determined that that competition not veer in the conflict, which would be terrible for everyone involved." 

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