If China attacks: Biden: Provide military assistance to Taiwan

When asked whether the United States would also defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack, Biden said in a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: “Yes.” When asked, he underlined: “That is a commitment that we have made.” Such a commitment A promise of assistance would indicate a departure from previous US policy, in which the USA does not clearly commit itself for strategic reasons.

Referring to Russia’s war of aggression, Biden said taking Taiwan by force would destabilize the whole region and be similar to what happened in Ukraine. Also as a signal to China, it is “important that (Russian President Vladimir, note) Putin pays a price for his barbarism in Ukraine,” said Biden. It’s “not just about Ukraine,” because China is observing whether Western pressure on Russia is easing.

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Biden made his comments at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo

“We remain committed to supporting cross-strait peace and stability and ensuring that there is no unilateral change in the status quo,” the US president said, referring to the strait between mainland China and Taiwan. China’s behavior, including military maneuvers and flights near the island, “flirts with danger,” he said. However, he does not assume that China will actually try to attack Taiwan.

Biden employee rows back

Biden’s advisers appeared restless during Biden’s remarks. Some of them looked down as the president seemed to speak unequivocally. A White House official then said there was no change in US policy. Biden made similar comments about defending Taiwan in October. A government spokesman said at the time that Biden had not announced any change in US policy. At the time, an expert described Biden’s statement as a “faux pas”.

The United States has committed itself to Taiwan’s ability to defend itself – which has so far primarily meant arms deliveries. The question of military assistance in the event of an attack was deliberately left open because Beijing saw it as a violation of the “One China Doctrine”. This “strategic ambiguity” was intended to keep Beijing unsure of what the US would do in the event of war. So far, the US has reserved a formal declaration of military assistance in Asia for its close allies Japan and South Korea. The US armed forces also have a military presence there.

China warns: “Don’t underestimate determination

According to state broadcaster CCTV, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reacted to Biden’s words as China expresses its “strong dissatisfaction” with the US comments. China has “no room for compromise or concession” when it comes to core interests of sovereignty and territorial integrity. “No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and powerful skills of the Chinese people,” Wang warned. “You can’t stand up to 1.4 billion Chinese.” The Taiwan question is a purely internal matter for China.

Taiwan welcomes Biden’s words

Taiwan, however, welcomed Biden’s statements. Thanks are due to the US government for reaffirming its commitment to Taiwan, a State Department spokesman said. Taiwan will also continue to strengthen its defense measures and deepen cooperation with countries like the US and Japan to ensure its security.

The conflict over the status of Taiwan goes back to the civil war in China, when the troops of the National China Party (Kuomintang) under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan after their defeat by Mao Zedong’s communists and split from China. Since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, Beijing has regarded the island as a breakaway part of the country. In a white paper presented in July 2019, Beijing repeated threats to recapture the island republic, if necessary using military force. “Taiwan’s full reunification with China is in China’s fundamental interest,” it said.

US to consider scrapping Trump’s punitive tariffs on China

In view of the high inflation, the US government is examining the abolition of some of the punitive tariffs on imports from China introduced by then-President Donald Trump. “I’m considering it. We didn’t impose any of these tariffs, they were imposed by the last administration,” Biden said in Tokyo on Monday. He will discuss this with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen after his return from Asia.

Yellen had already said at the end of April that the government was doing everything in its power to lower the rate of inflation. This also includes a “careful” review of the trade strategy towards China. It’s appropriate to review tariffs because that would have “some desirable effects” in terms of inflation, Yellen said. It is therefore being examined whether some of the tariffs can be abolished again.

Trump imposed the first punitive tariffs on Chinese imports in 2018, starting a trade war between the world’s two largest economies. He wanted to reduce the high US trade deficit with China and accused Beijing of unfair trading methods. Just one year later, almost all imports from China, valued at more than 500 billion US dollars (around 470 billion euros), were subject to punitive tariffs. Beijing also responded with new taxes on US imports.

Economic Initiative for Indo-Pacific Region

As part of Biden’s visit to Japan, the US also launched a new economic cooperation initiative in the Indo-Pacific region under her leadership. With the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which also includes Japan, Australia, India and nine other countries, the United States wants to create a counterpoint to China’s growing influence in the region. Biden gave the go-ahead for the initiative in Tokyo.

On Tuesday, Biden is scheduled to attend a summit of the Quad Alliance – a regional alliance that includes the United States, Australia, India and Japan. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are also traveling to the event. Biden had previously visited South Korea, where he promised expanded joint military maneuvers in view of North Korea’s missile tests. The United States has also been warning for weeks that North Korea could soon conduct a nuclear weapons test for the first time since 2017.

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