Biden is ‘paying lip service’ to the U.S. position on Taiwan, former Chinese army officer says

BEIJING — There is an increasing wariness of U.S. claims to recognize Beijing as the sole legal government of China, a retired officer of the People’s Liberation Army told CNBC on Monday.

His comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden repeatedly indicated the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if the island is attacked, only to have the White House deny a shift in a decades-long “one China policy.”

“We believe he is actually paying lip service to this one China policy,” said Zhou Bo, now a senior fellow at Tsinghua University’s Center for International Strategy and Security Studies.

Zhou did not specify who “we” referred to in his response to a question on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” about how Beijing viewed the back-and-forth over Biden’s comments.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) at the State Department in Washington, U.S. June 23, 2015.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters

Taiwan is a democratically self-ruled island that Beijing considers part of its territory. Beijing has maintained it seeks peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

During the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend, China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe maintained that Beijing would achieve reunification and warned those pursuing Taiwan independence would “come to no good end.”

A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin accused China of “provocative, destabilizing” military activity close to Taiwan.

For more than 40 years, the U.S. “one China policy” has recognized Beijing as the sole legal government of China. Meanwhile, the U.S. maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan, with a policy of making sure the island has the resources to defend itself.

Given recent media reports about U.S. assistance to Taiwan, Zhou said, “How could we have trust in the one China policy?”

— CNBC’s Ravi Buddhavarapu contributed to this report.

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