launched an alliance of 13 countries to confront China

On a key tour of Asia, US President Joe Biden threatened this monday China with military intervention if it tries to take control of Taiwan by force, while Beijing countered that the White House leader is “playing with fire”.

Biden made the remarks in Tokyo during an official visit to Japan, where he met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the last leg of his Asian tour which includes South Korea and India.

At a press conference alongside Kishida, Biden was asked whether the United States would intervene militarily against China should it try to take control of Taiwan by force, an issue on which the Biden administration had so far not taken a position. clear.

The president replied: “It’s the commitment we made.”

Joe Biden with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.  Reuters Photo

Joe Biden with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Reuters Photo

We agree with the “one China” policy, and we have signed for it (…) but the idea that Taiwan can be taken by force is not appropriate,” he added. “It would dislocate the entire region and it would be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And therefore it is a burden that is even stronger.”

chinese response

China considers Taiwan like a rebellious province that must be integrated into the country, by force if necessary. Biden explained that deterring Beijing from aggression in Taiwan and elsewhere is one of the reasons why it is so important to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “barbarism in Ukraine.”

Biden made these remarks on the same day that he announced another initiative to curb Chinese might: the launch of the Indo-Pacific alliance, a new economic framework for the Asia-Pacific region that will initially have 13 member countries, including India and Japan, but without China.

Joe Biden with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.  AP Photo

Joe Biden with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. AP Photo

The Chinese government’s response was immediate. He said the United States is “playing with fire” with such statements. Washington is “using the ‘Taiwan card’ to contain China, and it will burn,” said Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office. Zhu also urged the United States to “stop making statements or actions” that violate the principles established between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Wang Wenbin added that “no one should underestimate the strong determination, strong will and ability of the Chinese people to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

At first, Biden’s advisers expressed surprise at the president’s statements and immediately came out to clarify his statements. A White House official said Biden’s comments merely reiterated a promise made through a 1979 law that the United States it would provide Taiwan with the military means for self-defense.

The same US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, argued that Washington’s “One China” policy towards Taiwan “has not changed.”

Despite the surprise, Biden’s words are not interpreted as casual. In the current context, a presidential visit to Seoul and Tokyo and the West’s confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, her remarks had a more powerful resonance.

Military response?

The United States has long maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, meaning it is deliberately unclear what it would do in the event that the island needed to be defended. He gives signs of supporting Taiwan independence without saying so at all.

As part of the “One China” policy, Washington does not recognize Taiwan, but maintains “a strong unofficial relationship” with the island.

consulted by ClarionTonio Andrade, professor of Chinese history at Emory University, said: “I think we should take Biden’s statement at face value: would probably order a military response if the People’s Republic of China were to act militarily against Taiwan. It would be very different from the situation in Ukraine.”

He added: “Biden is well known for his habit of speaking off the cuff, but he is also a very careful leader and it is hard to imagine that he and his advisers did not fully consider possible answers to this question, which is, of course, one of the major issues in US-China relations. In fact, it is one of the most important issues in international relations today. I believe that, whether it was premeditated or not, Biden’s statement reflects his true feelings on the matter, and I suspect that the US political establishment, though divided on many issues, could find common ground on the China issue. If the PRC were to launch a military attack, a greater degree of political cohesion within the US is likely to emerge, despite the current high levels of political partisanship.”

Brantly Womack, a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and an expert on East Asia, told Clarion that “President Biden’s statements were made in response to a question that did not allow for an ambiguous answer. While his willingness to respond militarily does not indicate a new US stance on the China-Taiwan relationship, it continues President Donald Trump’s trend of shifting more weight onto Taiwan.”

Biden ended his day with dinner with Kishida and the prime minister’s wife in the garden of a select Tokyo restaurant, where they ate sushi and other traditional Japanese cuisine.

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