China says Joe Biden’s remarks on Taiwan send ‘seriously wrong signal’

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China has lodged a formal complaint with the US to protest president Joe Biden’s statement on defending Taiwan against any potential “unprecedented attack”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters on Monday that Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to Mr Biden’s statement and has formally taken the matter up with US officials.

“We are willing to strive for peaceful reunification with our greatest sincerity and efforts. At the same time, we will not tolerate any activity aimed at secession and reserve the option to take all necessary measures,” Ms Mao said.

She added that Mr Biden’s comments sent a “seriously wrong signal” to separatist forces in Taiwan and stated that China had the right to take necessary measures to counter such activities pertaining to Taiwan and protect its sovereignty.

China views Taiwan as its own territory; Xi Jinping has long vowed to bring it under Beijing’s control and has not ruled out the use of force to do so.

Democratically governed Taiwan strongly objects to China’s claims but said it does not need to declare independence because it is already an independent country.

“There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is a part of China, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government of China,” Ms Mao said in a reiteration of the Chinese claim.

The situation between the US and China has already become stressed following US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island nation in August.

The contentious visit led to Beijing displaying its aggression with frequent military drills and incursions along with ongoing activity around the strait of Taiwan.

The issue was further ignited after Mr Biden’s interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes in which he vowed American forces would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, something interpreted as a hint at possibly shifting US policy to support the island’s right to self-determination.

“Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not encouraging their being independent. That’s their decision,” Mr Biden said.

American officials have said the US government does not support official independence for Taiwan. US officials, including secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin, have underscored this year that the US does not support Taiwan’s independence.

White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell told a forum on Monday that the president’s remarks “speak for themselves” after some Republicans, including senator Ben Sasse, praised the president’s comments but slammed the White House for walking them back.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry responded to Mr Biden’s remarks by expressing its “sincere appreciation” for his staunch support for the island.

Additional reporting by agencies