White House walks back comments Biden made at CNN town hall

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White House walks back comments Biden made at CNN town hall

The White House is in damage control on Friday following multiple comments from President Biden during his live CNN town hall that have required his spokespeople to “clarify” his words, including a commitment to defend Taiwan from a possible attack by China.

When answering questions from the audience on Thursday evening, Biden was pressed on how the US will match China’s military amid reports of hypersonic missile testing, and if the US could defend Taiwan from a potential attack from the Chinese. 

“China, Russia, and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world. Don’t worry about whether we’re going to – they’re going to be more powerful. What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that will put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said, adding that he doesn’t want a “Cold War with China.” 

“I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back, we are not going to change any of our views,” he added. 

Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-17 ballistic missiles.
“China, Russia, and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world,” Biden said.
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

CNN’s Anderson Cooper then pressed the president to respond on whether the U.S. would defend Taiwan. 

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said.

Biden’s response appeared to anger the Chinese Communist Party, with a foreign ministry spokesperson telling Chinese-state-affiliated Global times that, “No one should underestimate the strong resolve, determination and capability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“China has no room for compromise.”

The spokesperson also reportedly issued a warning to the U.S. to “be cautious in words and deed” and to “refrain from sending any wrong signal to secessionists,” referring to Taiwan. 

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall about his infrastructure investment proposals with CNN's Anderson Cooper
President Biden said he doesn’t want a “Cold War with China.” 
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Without fully walking back on the president’s comments, a White House spokesperson told Fox News on Friday that Biden “was not announcing any change in our policy.”

“There is no change in our policy,” the spokesperson said. “The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act.” 

“We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.”

The White House also clarified another statement the president made regarding the use of the National Guard to assist in the massive backlog along the supply chain. 

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall about his infrastructure investment proposals with CNN's Anderson Cooper
The White House walked back President Biden’s statement about using the National Guard troops as truck drivers to help alleviate some of the supply-chain crisis.  
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Thursday, Biden was asked if he would consider using the National Guard to make up for the lack of truck drivers that has resulted in delays for goods to reach their final destination in stores across the country. 

“I had a timetable for, first of all, I want to get the ports up and running,” Biden said, referring to two major U.S. ports that have seen a bottleneck of ships being unable to unload their goods. The president pointed to several companies, such as Walmart, that have offered to run their operations 24/7 to assist in the crisis. 

However, when pressed further on the use of National Guardsmen, Biden said, “the answer is yes, if we can’t move to increase the number of truckers, which we’re in the process of doing.” 

The White House squashed any notion of the administration actively looking into that possibility Friday. 

“We are not actively pursuing the use of the national guard on a federal level,” an official told Fox News.

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