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Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Chinese government spokesperson on Friday said that there is "no room" for compromise over Taiwan after President Biden commented that the U.S. would defend the island if it were attacked, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden’s comments were initially seen as undercutting the U.S. government’s long-standing position of “strategic ambiguity” toward whether it would defend Taiwan, which China views as a rebellious territory. A White House spokesperson quickly clarified that there is no change in U.S. policy.

What happened: During a CNN town hall on Thursday, Biden said that "we have a commitment" to defend the island if it were under attack. China has continued to say that it plans to reunify with Taiwan, including by military force if needed.

What they're saying: Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin repeated China's claim that Taiwan is Chinese territory.

  • "When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions, and no one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Wang said, per AP.

A senior administration official told Axios that "the United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on both sides."

  • "The United States has an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. And we believe that our support for Taiwan contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability."

Following the president's comments, a White House spokesperson told Axios' Mike Allen, "The President was not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy. 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."

Go deeper

Nov 26, 2021 - World

Solomon Islands leader blames foreign interference for unrest

Burnt-out buildings in Honiara's Chinatown on Friday, after two days of rioting around the district. Photo: Charley Piringi/AFP via Getty Images

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Friday "foreign powers" were to blame for days of unrest in the South Pacific nation.

Why it matters: His government's decision to change alliances from Taiwan to China sparked a wave of anger and massive protests and riots in the capital, Honiara, this week — which resulted in Sogavare declaring a lockdown and calling in Australian police, who swept in to take control of the city Friday, per Reuters.

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.

Travel bans upend holiday plans amid new virus fears

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Just when it seemed safe to travel overseas again, along comes Omicron.

Why it matters: The emergence of the new coronavirus variant couldn't come at a worse time, just weeks before millions of people are expected to travel for the holidays to reunite with loved ones they've missed during the pandemic.

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