In 2001, then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., criticized then-President George W. Bush for his loose talk about Taiwan. Now, President Biden is saying almost the exact same thing as Bush did.
WHAT HE SAID
THEN: In a Washington Post op-ed headlined “Not So Deft on Taiwan,” Biden faulted Bush for telling a reporter he would defend Taiwan from an attack by China with “Whatever it took.”
- Biden noted that Bush hours later recommitted to American’s longstanding “One China” policy, which acknowledges but does not endorse China’s claim to rule Taiwan.
- “Words matter, in diplomacy and in law,” Biden wrote. “The president should not cede to Taiwan, much less to China, the ability automatically to draw us into a war across the Taiwan Strait … his inattention to detail has damaged U.S. credibility with our allies and sown confusion throughout the Pacific Rim.”
NOW: At a press conference in Tokyo Monday, during a multi-day trip to Asia, Biden said the U.S. would respond militarily to Chinese aggression against Taiwan.
- The White House quickly walked back Biden’s fighting words, and he agreed Tuesday that “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan was still the official U.S. position.
- As Washington Post analysis noted, the president’s aides have repeatedly corrected his statements about Taiwan and other high-stakes foreign policy issues, including regime change in Russia.
- “Biden is a self-described ‘gaffe machine’ who once, in 1987, found the need to explain to reporters, ‘I feel very capable of using my mouth in sync with my mind,'” wrote the Post’s Ashley Parker and Tyler Pager.
- “But as president, his rinse-and-repeat cycle of veering off-script — followed by his team’s now well-honed cleanup efforts — has at times complicated U.S. policy goals and even undermined Biden himself.”