Biden says US has no strategic interest in Taiwan

Biden says no ‘imminent attempt’ by China to invade Taiwan after closed-door talks with Xi Jinping

‘No’ to “involving other countries in Taiwan”

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with US Vice President Joe Biden at China’s Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, September 6, 2017. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday played down the chance of a “sovereign-overlord relationship” with China, saying Xi Jinping’s government did not have a “strategic interest” in Taiwan’s autonomy.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Indonesia, Biden said the US would help countries in Southeast Asia deal with the growing assertiveness of China.

“It’s China that I worry about. We don’t have a strategic interest in Taiwan,” he said.

“I believe that we have to be engaged there and I think we have to work together to deal with it.”

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has accused the island of attempting to split it from the mainland in 1995 and 2003.

Biden’s comments came after Xi told Biden he had discussed the issue with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The US has pushed back against Beijing’s claims in recent weeks, warning against “wrongdoing” in the South China Sea, where China has built military structures on disputed territories, and has blocked a draft text setting out US policy toward Taiwan and the region.

In Jakarta, leaders of Southeast Asian nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are meeting to address issues including China’s “assertive” actions in the South China Sea and Beijing’s policies toward Taiwan as well as human rights abuses in the region.

Afterward Biden was in Washington for a meeting with US Congressional members and the president of the World Bank for discussions on economic issues, the White House said.

During his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama had raised doubts about the US’s policy toward Taiwan, but the administration has not taken the same position under President Donald Trump.

The Taiwan issue was a key factor in a heated presidential race in the 2016 US election.

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to “strongly” defend the territory if he wins the presidency.

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