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Biden says US military would defend Taiwan if China invades


Mr. Biden had ignored the vagueness practiced by his predecessors with regard to China and Taiwan before his presidency. Last August, to reassure his allies after his decision to abandon the Afghan government, he promised that “we would respond” if there was an attack against another NATO member, then added: “the same with the Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan.

Taiwan, however, never got the same U.S. security guarantees as Japan, South Korea, or U.S. NATO allies, so the comment was seen as significant. Two months later, Mr Biden was asked during a televised town hall whether the United States would protect Taiwan from attack. “Yes, we are committed to doing that,” he said. It also sparked a frantic scramble from the White House to backtrack on his remark insisting he was not changing long-standing policy.

Indeed, the president has made a habit of ignoring the precautions his staff would prefer him to take in the face of foreign adversaries. In March, Mr. Biden went further than his administration had gone by calling Russian President Vladimir V. Putin 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 Mr Putin ‘cannot stay in power’.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been watched closely in Asia for any lessons it may hold for China’s longstanding ambition to reintegrate Taiwan. If Russia had succeeded in conquering Ukraine, which was once part of its empire, some feared it would set a dangerous precedent. Yet Russia’s dismal failure to gain control of the entire country and the unified Western response can serve as a red flag for military adventurism.

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

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry welcomed Biden’s latest comments on Monday, expressing “gratitude” to the president for affirming “the United States’ unwavering commitment to Taiwan”. In a statement, the ministry said Taiwan would “continue to improve its self-defense capabilities and deepen cooperation with the United States, Japan and other like-minded countries.”

Beijing, on the other hand, issued a ritual rejection of the president’s remarks. “On issues concerning China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and other core interests, China has no room for compromise,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters. foreign affairs, adding that no one should underestimate China’s determination to defend itself.

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