President Joe Biden is deepening ties with Taiwan and pushing U.S. policy to the brink of war with China, despite efforts by his senior advisers to walk back his incendiary comments and soften the president’s message.
(Video Credit: 60 Minutes)
Experts assert that Biden’s repeated rhetoric on the issue, claiming that U.S .troops would defend the territory if China invades, is an intentional use of aggressive language meant to test Chinese resolve by risking an armed conflict with the United States, according to The Hill.
When Biden was asked in a “60 Minutes” interview if he would send US forces to defend Taiwan in response to an invasion, he said “yes.”
“My general sense is that when a leader says the same thing four times it isn’t a gaffe. It’s a reflection of his convictions,” Ryan Hass, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, commented. “And I think that the world should take President Biden at his word. He seems to be signaling clearly that he believes the United States needs to be prepared to intervene in the event of a conflict at the Taiwan Strait.”
China is incensed over Biden’s comments. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi excoriated the U.S. in front of the United Nations General Assembly over it and took his anger out on Secretary of State Antony Blinken in meetings last week.
In a conversation with the Chinese foreign minister this past week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he reiterated the United States’ insistence that “peace and stability be maintained in the Taiwan Straits.” https://t.co/43PTIadHyS pic.twitter.com/icWyWanw9O
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 25, 2022
“Any scheme to interfere in China’s internal affairs is bound to meet the strong opposition of all Chinese and any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang proclaimed during his UN address.
Wang also said via a statement, “To truly maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait, the United States must unequivocally oppose and curb any ‘Taiwan independence’ activities.”
“I think that Beijing has long expected the United States would intervene in a cross-strait conflict that Beijing initiates, and the president’s statements appear to be treated as confirmation of their preexisting assumptions,” Hass remarked following Wang’s heated assertions.
The Chinese were furious when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited the island in August.
Now, Vice President Kamala Harris has accused China of “undermining key elements of the international rules-based order” and called its behavior in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait “disturbing,” according to CNN which further enflames tensions.
Harris, speaking aboard the USS Howard at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, echoed Biden’s comments on Taiwan, saying the U.S. will “continue to oppose any unilateral change to the status quo. And we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, consistent with our long-standing policy.”
“China is undermining key elements of the international rules-based order. China has challenged freedom of the seas. China has flexed its military and economic might to coerce and intimidate its neighbors,” she charged in her speech.
VP Harris, aboard USS Howard in Japan: “China has flexed its military and economic might to coerce and intimidate its neighbors. And we have witnessed disturbing behavior in the East China Sea and in the South China Sea, and most recently, provocations across the Taiwan Strait.” pic.twitter.com/tJaDKiRZul
— Tarini Parti (@tparti) September 28, 2022
She added that the United States believes peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is “an essential feature of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“We will continue to fly, sail, and operate, undaunted and unafraid, wherever and whenever international law allows,” Harris boasted.
Beijing has also heavily criticized the push to increase weapons sales to Taiwan and has spoken out against proposed bipartisan legislation regarding the island, called the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022.
Wang, in a speech at the Asia Society in New York, asserted that the Taiwan Policy Act “threatens the very foundation of China-U.S. relations.”
Jacob Stokes, a fellow for the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said that Biden’s remarks concerning the U.S. defending Taiwan challenge the long-held policy declarations between Washington and Beijing referred to as the “Six Assurances” and “three joint communique.”
Biden's waffling on Taiwan weakens us. He says one thing then repeatedly allows his White House to reverse him.
There's no deterrent in demonstrating weakness.
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) September 22, 2022
“What is in one of the joint communique, is that ‘we [the U.S.] recognize China’s position about Taiwan, we don’t accept it,’” Stokes pointed out. “I think that’s an important distinction to be made.”
Biden administration officials have desperately attempted to clarify the president’s “60 Minutes” interview, repeatedly saying that the “One China” policy has not changed.
#Biden has clearly said on four occasions he will defend #Taiwan, but his subordinates on four occasions have clearly contradicted him. He now has a constitutional obligation to explain to the #American people if he is still commander-in-chief and the one making decisions.
— Gordon G. Chang (@GordonGChang) September 19, 2022
“The president is a direct and straightforward person,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan equivocated. “He has also been clear that he stands behind the historic U.S. policy towards Taiwan that has existed through Democratic and Republican administrations.”
“I’m not sure what is gained by the repeated pattern of the president saying one thing and then his staff suggesting something else,” Hass said. “I’m not sure that such clarifications do anything to reassure Beijing. I think that they cause confusion in Taipei and elsewhere about why the president and his staff are not on the same page.”
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