Biden: US Forces Would Defend Taiwan From An Unprecedented China Invasion

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China

The US president’s remarks on China are the latest indication that Washington is shifting its policy of strategic ambiguity toward a self-governed island.

In Summary

•        US President Joe Biden has stated that US forces will defend the island if China launches an attack on Taiwan.

•        The remarks are the clearest indication that Washington is moving its decades-long policy of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan.

•        White House officials have asserted that the US policy toward the island has not changed.

•        Beijing claims that Taiwan is a province that must be “reunified” with the rest of China, even if it means using force. The United States has been one of Taiwan’s staunchest supporters around the world.

Unlike Ukraine, Biden Confirms That The Us Military Would Defend Taiwan From China.

China
President Joe Biden Tom Brenner/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden stated that US forces would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. This is the clearest indication that Washington is moving its decades-long policy of strategic ambiguity toward the democratic island.

On television, Biden asked if the US military would defend the self-governed island if China attacked, stating that it would if “a completely new attack” occurred.

When asked for more information, Biden stated that US troops would be deployed to Taiwan’s defense. This contrasts with what happened in Ukraine, where Washington provided Ukraine with material support and military equipment to fight Russia without sending American troops.

Biden’s comments are the latest to cast doubt on the US’s long-standing policy toward Taiwan, as outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. This law states that the US will defend Taiwan in defending itself, but it does not say that the US will send troops or directly participate in a conflict.

During a trip to Japan in May, Biden appeared to confirm that if China attacked Taiwan, he would use force to defend it. Instead, he described the island’s defense as a “commitment we made.”

Many people believed that Biden’s comments signaled the end of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan. However, White House officials have repeatedly stated that the US policy toward the island has not changed.

According to a White House spokesperson, US policy has not changed despite what Biden said.

“The president has said this before,” the spokesperson said, “including earlier this year in Tokyo.” He also unequivocally said our policy toward Taiwan hasn’t changed; it’s been clear since then. That is still true.”

China
Taiwan, Beefing Up Its Military Training to Better Counter Chinese Pressure [Ritchie B Tongo/EPA]

“Strategic Ambiguity” vs. “One-China”

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Biden stated that Washington opposes Taiwan’s independence and is committed to the “One-China” policy, which states that the US recognizes Beijing but not Taipei.

Even though it does not officially recognize Taipei, Washington has been one of Taiwan’s most ardent international supporters. The US State Department approved the sale of weapons to the island for $1.1 billion earlier this month. Simultaneously, a Senate committee voted to advance legislation providing an additional $4.5 billion in security assistance and punish Beijing if it attempted to take the island by force.

China claims Taiwan is a province that must be “reunified” with the mainland, even if it means using force. Instead, it accuses the US of disrupting regional stability and encouraging Taiwanese independence.

Following Biden’s comments in May, China’s foreign ministry stated, “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s firm resolve, staunch will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

According to Matthew Kroenig, deputy director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, Biden’s position on Taiwan’s defense is “crystal clear.”

“The US policy is to defend Taiwan as long as he is president,” Kroenig told Al Jazeera. “This is the right policy because it scares China away and helps the US plan its military.”

“I do think America is strong enough to fight that stomach. Hitler and Imperial Japan bet that America would not fight in the years leading up to WWII. So, what happened next? Washington has a significant strategic interest in maintaining Indo-Pacific peace and stability and a free and open order.

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