WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he made clear to China’s Xi Jinping that his administration stands firmly behind the United States' longstanding “One China” policy but he also noted that the self-ruled island of Taiwan ultimately makes its own decisions.
White House officials said the two leaders spoke extensively about Taiwan during their more than three-hour virtual meeting one day earlier.
Tensions have heightened as China has dispatched a growing number of fighter jets toward the island, while the U.S. and its allies sail warships though the Taiwan Strait.
But Biden on Tuesday sought to underscore his support for the Taiwan Relations Act, which went into effect in 1979 and shapes the parameters of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.
“We made very clear we support the Taiwan Act and that’s it,” Biden told reporters while traveling in New Hampshire. “It’s independent. It makes its own decisions.”
The United States’ “One China” policy recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. Biden also made clear the U.S. “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” a White House statement said.
Earlier Tuesday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden reminded Xi during their virtual meeting that he voted as a senator for the Taiwan Relations Act.
“So he understands deeply, firsthand, that the act makes clear that any effort to shape Taiwan’s future by other than peaceful means is of grave concern to the United States,” said Sullivan, speaking at a webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
The Biden-Xi video conference took place Tuesday morning in Beijing and Monday evening in Washington.
Sullivan said the two leaders also agreed to explore talks on arms control.