Joe Biden, emboldened by Russia’s failures, becomes aggressive towards China


President Joe Biden’s remarks on Monday about the United States’ “commitment” to defending Taiwan militarily if the island is attacked by China appear to represent a more aggressive approach than that of previous presidents.

While Biden said the US policy of so-called “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan had not changed, his comments are his strongest warning to China that the US would defend Taiwan if attacked.

Biden may feel emboldened to take a tougher line against China following the strategic failures of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, where Russian forces were unable to seize the capital kyiv during the first stage of the war and then retreated.

The president directly linked the issue of a hypothetical Chinese attack on Taiwan to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on Monday when answering a question about Taiwan’s defense.

Biden told reporters in Tokyo that China was “already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers it was doing,” referring to Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s airspace.

He said the US responsibility to defend Taiwan was “even stronger” after the Russian invasion.

“That’s the commitment we made,” the president said.

Biden added that if China invades Taiwan, it would “disrupt the whole region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.”

China considers Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory, and the United States has pursued a one-China policy that recognizes only one Chinese government, the one based in Beijing.

“America is committed to a one-China policy, but that doesn’t mean China has the power to use force to take Taiwan,” Biden said Monday.

Taiwan’s government has been diplomatically isolated, and most nations around the world do not have formal diplomatic relations with the island, including the United States.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has previously said Taiwan’s “reunification” with China is inevitable and has not ruled out the use of force.

The United States has long pursued a policy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan by not publicly pledging to defend the island against Chinese attack, but saying that the United States would not intervene either.

This chart from Statista shows Chinese incursions into Taiwanese airspace over the past year.

This graph from Statista shows Chinese incursions into Taiwanese airspace.
Statistical

Washington also sells weapons to the Taiwanese government under the Taiwan Relations Act. This legislation obliges the United States to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Biden has previously sparked controversy over similar remarks about Taiwan. In August 2021, the president told ABC News that “we would respond” if a NATO country was attacked and added “the same with Japan, the same with South Korea, the same with Taiwan “.

In October, Biden was asked in a televised town hall whether the United States would defend Taiwan if China attacked and replied, “Yes, we are committed to doing so.”

On both occasions, the White House appeared to scramble to explain that Biden’s remarks did not indicate a shift in policy. On Monday, Biden prefaced his comments by saying that US policy “has not changed.”

The president’s most recent comments come amid a series of apparent failures by Russia in Ukraine as the United States and its Western allies have provided military and humanitarian support to the Ukrainian government. Biden recently approved a new aid package worth nearly $40 billion.

President Vladimir Putin’s regime has been hit with crippling sanctions since Russia launched what it described as a ‘special military operation’ on February 24 as Russian forces withdrew from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv , the second largest in the country.

Biden may feel his Ukraine aid strategy has been successful, while a traditional geopolitical adversary has suffered diplomatic isolation and a potentially humiliating military defeat.

Similar tactics could come into play in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

However, the president said on Monday he believed a Chinese invasion of the island “won’t happen, won’t be attempted” and would depend on “how strong the world makes clear that this type of attack is.” ‘action will result in long-term disapproval.’

Newsweek asked the White House for comment.

Biden attends Quad Leaders Summit
US President Joe Biden attends the Quad Leaders Summit on May 24, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. Biden said the United States has a “commitment” to defending Taiwan.
Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images


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