What about the “Taiwan agreement”?

Winston Churchill’s career in politics was dogged by the gibe “What about the Dardanelles?” I wondered if anyone in the White House press corps might ask the psychedelic White House pspokesman Jen Psaki “What about the ‘Taiwan agreement’?”

That would be the non-existent “Taiwan agreement” to which President Biden referred in comments on Wednesday. (The official White House transcript of Biden’s remarks referring to the “Taiwan agreement” is posted here.)

What was Biden talking about? We weren’t the only auditors mystified by Biden’s comments. The government of Taiwan also wondered what Biden was talking about. Reuters reports: “Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, which had sought clarification from the United States about Biden’s comments, said on Wednesday Washington reassured them that its approach to Taiwan had not changed, and that its commitment to the democratically governed island claimed by Beijing was ‘rock solid.'”

Reuters White House reporter Steve Holland has more here. I take it that it was Holland who tactfully raised the related question to Psaki at yesterday’s White House press briefing (transcript here):

[T]he President indicated last night that he had spoken to President Xi about Taiwan. Was this in their more recent [i.e., September 9] phone call? And what exactly did he tell him?

Psaki responded:

So just — you didn’t ask this, but some others have asked us — he did not have a new call that you’re not aware of….So, just for full clarity on that. He has spoken with him [i.e., Xi] twice, as you know.

And certainly, reiterating our position as it relates to — you know, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and our view that we need to uphold that commitment — our commitment under the act — that is what the President reiterated to President Xi last time he talked, and it is something that is raised nearly every time he speaks at a leader level and at other levels as well.

Psaki’s response requires some translation. I translate it as saying: The non-existent “Taiwan agreement” to which Biden referred was the Taiwan Relations Act.

This was all in the nature of a clean up on aisle 46, an operation that is required in the case of a president with a serious case of brain fog.

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