China Says Joe Biden's Taiwan Policy Based on 'Cooked Up' Domestic Law

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused "domestic forces" in the United States of having concocted elements of Washington's "one China" policy, after President Joe Biden said the U.S. wouldn't change its positions on Beijing or Taipei.

Quizzed about the leaders' summit with China's Xi Jinping, Biden told reporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday that he made it very clear the U.S. supports the "Taiwan Act"—an apparent reference to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

"It's independent. It makes its own decisions," the president said of the self-ruled island.

An hour later, before boarding Air Force One at Manchester Airport, he added: "We're not going to change our policy at all." Biden said. "They have to decide—'they'—Taiwan. Not us. And we are not encouraging independence [...] Let them make up their mind. Period."

At a regular press conference in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian didn't address Biden's apparent endorsement of Taiwanese self-determination, but he repeated Beijing's recent insistence that the U.S.'s "one China" policy is wrong.

"What the United States should be abiding by is the 'one China' principle and the China-U.S. Three Joint Communiques. They are an important political consensus between the two countries," Zhao said.

He added: "The so-called 'Taiwan Relations Act' and the 'Six Assurances' to Taiwan were cooked up by domestic forces in the United States and are contrary to the China-U.S. Three Joint Communiques. They in essence place American domestic law above international obligations and are illegal and invalid."

China Says U.S.'s Taiwan Law 'Cooked Up'
President Joe Biden delivers a speech on infrastructure while visiting the NH 175 bridge spanning the Pemigewasset River on November 16, 2021, in Woodstock, New Hampshire. Biden told reporters on Tuesday that he made it very clear the U.S. supports the "Taiwan Act." John Tully/Getty Images

China's opposition to the U.S.'s "one China" policy isn't new. Washington has also reiterated that its policy is distinct from Beijing's "one China" principle, under which Taiwan is unequivocally a part of China. Officially, the U.S. takes no position on sovereignty over the island, while only acknowledging China's claim to it.

Following the Biden-Xi summit on Monday, the White House said President Biden underscored the U.S.'s commitment to the "one China" policy, including the TRA, the Three Communiques and the Six Assurances.

Biden told Xi the U.S. "strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," according to the readout.

Beijing's charge that the TRA was "cooked up" by domestic forces in the U.S. would seem to include a criticism of Biden himself. Then a senator for his home state of Delaware, he voted for the very same legislation in 1979.

Under the TRA, the U.S. is required to provide Taiwan with defensive arms while also maintaining its own capability to resist any attempt to resolve differences across the Taiwan Strait by other than peaceful means.

While Beijing believes the Three Communiques—issued in 1972, 1979 and 1982—to be foundational to U.S.-China relations, Washington considers them non-binding statements of policy intent. In order, the communiques acknowledged—but didn't recognize—the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China; formalized the switching of U.S. recognition from Taipei to Beijing; and signal its intention to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Six Assurances—given to Taipei by the Reagan administration in 1982—included clarifications including no set date for the end of arms sales; no change in its position on Taiwan's political status; and no intent to pressure the island into negotiations with China.

According to the Chinese readout of Monday's summit—the first since Biden became president—Xi said China would remain patient on Taiwan, but warned he could be "compelled to take resolute measures" if red lines are crossed