Biden: ‘We Do Not Support Independence’ For Taiwan

President Biden had a short message for Taiwan after its election of a new president on Saturday: “We do not support independence.”

USA Backs Down On Support of Taiwan’s Independence

Taiwanese ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te came to power, strongly rejecting Chinese pressure to spurn him, and pledged both to stand up to Beijing and seek talks.

Lai Ching-te (L) joins hands with the vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim during a campaign rally on January 11, 2024, in Taipei, Taiwan.  (Sawayasu Tsuji/Getty Images)

World leaders congratulated Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for a historic third presidential term, even as President Biden warned that the U.S. will not endorse independence for the island.

“We do not support independence,” Biden told reporters when asked for comment on DPP candidate William Lai’s victory over the rival Koumintang (KMT) party following Saturday’s election.

Lai, who also goes by his Chinese name, Ching-te, declared victory after a tightly contested election saw him beat KMT candidate Hou Yu-ih, the mayor of New Taipei City. Beijing had not declared a clear preference for any candidate, but Chinese officials framed Lai as “dangerous.”

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 and has long said it does not support a formal declaration of independence by Taiwan. It does, however, maintain unofficial relations with the self-governed island and remains its most important backer and arms supplier.

Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, fears that Lai could declare the establishment of a Republic of Taiwan, which Lai has said he will not do.

Biden’s stance reinforces the One China policy in recognizing Beijing’s claims that Taiwan is historically part of the mainland. The U.S. has committed to informal relations with Taipei.

After Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Nov., he said he “made clear” China should not interfere in Taiwan’s election. He said the U.S. maintains the One China agreement and he does not have plans to change it.

Japan congratulated Taiwan for the “smooth implementation” of its presidential election, and Lai for his victory, promising to “work toward further deepening cooperation and exchanges between Japan and Taiwan, based on its position to maintain working relationship on the non-governmental basis.” 

“We expect that the issue surrounding Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue, thereby contributing to the peace and stability in the region,” the statement said. 

The European Union did not mention or directly congratulate Lai on his victory, simply referring to the need for “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” as “key to regional and global security and prosperity.” 

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