Biden says US military would defend Taiwan if China invaded

Mr. Biden had ignored the vagueness practiced by his predecessors regarding China and Taiwan before his presidency. Last August, reassuring allies after his decision to leave Afghanistan’s government, he promised that “we would respond” if there was an attack on a NATO member, then added, “Same with Japan, same with South Korea.” Same thing with Taiwan.”

However, Taiwan has never been given the same US security guarantees as Japan, South Korea or America’s NATO allies, so the comment was seen as significant. Two months later, Biden was asked during a televised town hall whether the United States would protect Taiwan from attack. “Yes, we are committed to doing it,” he said. That also set off a frantic fight by the White House to retract his comment by insisting he was not changing longstanding policy.

Indeed, the president has made a habit of ignoring the precautions his staff would prefer him to take when facing adversaries abroad. In March, Biden went further than his administration had gone by calling President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a war criminal in response to a reporter’s question. Just a week later, he caused a stir when he improvised a line at the end of a speech in Poland declaring that Putin “cannot stay in power.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been closely watched in Asia for the lessons it could hold for China’s long-standing ambition to reincorporate Taiwan. If Russia had succeeded in conquering Ukraine, once part of her empire, some feared it would set a dangerous precedent. However, Russia’s abject failure to take over the entire country and the unified Western response may serve as a red flag for military adventurism.

China, which has regarded Taiwan as one of its provinces for more than seven decades, sent 14 planes to the island’s air defense zone last week on the day Biden arrived in Asia, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. as part of a pattern. of growing incursions in the last year. Taiwan sent fighter jets in response, but no direct conflict was reported.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry welcomed Mr. Biden’s latest comments on Monday and expressed “gratitude” to the president for affirming the United States’ “rock-solid commitment” to Taiwan. In a statement, the ministry said Taiwan “will continue to enhance its self-defense capabilities and deepen cooperation with the United States and Japan and other like-minded countries.”

Mr. Kishida, who spoke strongly about China during the press conference, expressed concern about a Ukraine-style conflict over Taiwan. Any “unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine this time, should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

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