On Thursday, Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's Morning Edition, and said that it will take "hard work" to avoid military conflict with China over Taiwan, a self-governed country that China claims is part of its greater domain under their one-China principle.
Sullivan said, "There is a risk of conflict with respect to Taiwan, but I believe that with responsible stewardship, we can ensure that this contingency never comes to pass. And that is our responsibility."
The one-China principle originates out of the People's Republic of China and states that Taiwan is part of greater China. The one-China policy is the diplomatic positioning from the US and allies that acknowledge Taiwan as technically a part of China, even while diplomatic relations exist with the internal government of Tawain, called the Republic of China. The one-China policy is not a direct endorsement of the position coming out of Beijing toward Taiwan.
According to the BBC, "The One China policy is a key cornerstone of Sino-US relations. It is also a fundamental bedrock of Chinese policy-making and diplomacy. However, it is distinct from the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inalienable part of one China to be reunified one day."
Sullivan has a history of expressing support for mainland China's global rise and in 2017 said, ""\We need to strike a middle course—one that encourages China's rise in a manner consistent with an open, fair, rules-based, regional order."
In September, Sullivan said, "I think it remains a distinct threat that there could be a military contingency around Taiwan" during an interview for Bloomberg's "The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations."
"The People’s Republic of China has actually stated as official policy that it is not taking the invasion of Taiwan off the table," Sullivan added.
In his NPR comments, Sullivan said avoiding conflict with China over Taiwan, "will require us following through on the commitments of the Taiwan Relations Act, which for 40 years now has said we will provide defensive articles to Taiwan."
The Taiwan Relations Act was introduced to Congress in 1979 and after its signing committed the US to providing arms to Taiwain if greater China were to invade.
Sullivan added that it will take "direct diplomacy" with the People's Republic of China as well and "We have to make this a priority to ensure there is not a war over the Taiwan Strait."
A Chinese Foreign Ministry official said on December 23 that "The US must take seriously China's legitimate concerns, stop containing and suppressing China's development, and particularly stop using salami tactics to constantly challenge China's red line." Xi Jinping told Biden that the issue of Taiwan was a "red line" at the G20 summit in November in Bali.
Sullivan also commented on Taiwan's important role in global trade as 90 percent of semiconductors are manufactured in the country and said "We still rely on importing those chips from Taiwan."
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2 despite warnings from China that it could be considered an act of aggression. Chinese President Xi Jinping told Joe Biden directly that Pelosi shouldn't visit Taiwan and said "those who play with fire will only get burnt" as a warning to the American leader. China began war games soon after and launched a series of missiles over the Taiwan strait which escalated tensions in the region and with the US.
On his Human Events podcast, Jack Posobiec, whose recent China files detail the history of red China, including its geo-political positioning concerning Taiwan, said the Chinese leader's comments to Biden was the equivalent of telling the US president that there was nothing the West could do about China's ambitions of taking over Taiwan.
Joe Biden has simultaneously said the US respects China's policy of sovereignty over Taiwan while saying several times, including in May and September, that the US would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded.
China also expressed recent concerns over provisions for Taiwan in Biden's massive $1.7 trillion government omnibus bill, as a response they began military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.
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