Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States does not "support Taiwan independence" during his trip to Beijing this week, clarifying U.S. policy toward Taiwan that President Joe Biden himself has been unclear on.
"We do not support Taiwan independence," Blinken said Monday. "We remain opposed to any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side."
Blinken added that the United States continues to "expect the peaceful resolution" of the countries' differences but that America also "remain[s] committed" to "making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself." Blinken is the first U.S. cabinet-level official to visit China since 2019 and ended the trip on Monday with an unexpected meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Biden has made conflicting statements on U.S. policy toward Taiwan. He said in September 2022 that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense in the case of a Chinese invasion, drawing anger from China. He made a similar comment in 2021—in both cases the White House walked back the remarks.
The comments on Blinken's trip come as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate. Dozens of war games carried out by the Pentagon have indicated the United States is unprepared for a "horrifically bloody" war with China. Meanwhile, the U.S. military has reported close encounters with Chinese ships and planes.
Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) met with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen in April, refusing to bow to China's pressure to cancel the meeting in California.
"I’m the speaker of the House," McCarthy said in April. "There is no place that China’s going to tell me where I can go or who I can speak to."
China said in the week before McCarthy and Tsai's meeting that it "firmly opposes and strongly condemns" Tsai’s visit, which it sees as an affront to its claims of control over the island nation. It promised "resolute and forceful measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity." Another statement from China's foreign ministry called the meeting "U.S.-Taiwan collusion."
After then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) visited Taiwan last August, China conducted its largest live-fire drills in decades and shot a missile over Taiwan.