President Biden on Wednesday cautioned China against interfering in Taiwan’s upcoming elections following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I made clear I didn’t expect any interference,” Biden said in a press conference following the hours-long meeting with Xi.
Taiwan will hold presidential elections in January, casting additional uncertainty around the future of the island’s relationship with China.
Taiwan has been a major source of tension between the Washington. and Beijing as China has carried out aggressive maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, sparking fears of a potential invasion of the island in the coming years.
Biden has triggered further anxiety over the situation by repeatedly saying in the past the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if it were attacked, a contradiction to the strategic ambiguity the U.S. government has maintained for years.
But the president on Wednesday emphasized his commitment to the One China policy, under which the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from mainland China.
“We maintain the agreement that there is a One China policy. I’m not going to change that. That’s not going to change. That’s about the extent to which we discussed it,” Biden said.
The president’s comments came after he and Xi met for several hours on the sidelines of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.
A senior administration official separately told reporters in California that Xi expressed some exasperation in response to repeated speculation that China was preparing to invade Taiwan.
“I think President Biden responded very clearly that the longstanding position of the United States was a determination to maintain peace and stability,” the official said. “That we believed in the status quo. And that we asked the Chinese to respect the electoral process in Taiwan.”
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