Will US troops defend Taiwan?  Biden says yes again

Will US troops defend Taiwan? Biden says yes again


Washington
CNN

President Joe Biden has reaffirmed that the United States military will defend Taiwan if the Chinese military launches an invasion of the democratically governed island.

Appearance on CBS 60 Minutes Program Biden was asked Sunday if “the US military, the men and women of the US, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”

“Yes,” Biden said.

This is not the first time Biden has gone beyond the longstanding American “strategic ambiguity” approach when it comes to protecting Taiwan. Most recently during visiting Tokyo in MayBiden said the US would intervene militarily if China tried to take over Taiwan by force.

The White House was quick to play down Biden’s previous comments on Taiwan, reaffirming that US policy had not changed, and 60 Minutes reported Sunday that it had received a similar response to Biden’s responses in their interview.

Taiwan is less than 110 miles (177 km) off the coast of China. For more than 70 years, the two sides have been ruled separately, but that hasn’t stopped the ruling Communist Party of China from claiming the island as theirs, despite never having control of it.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the “reunification” of China and Taiwan was inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have reached their highest levels in decades as the Chinese military conducts major military exercises near the island.

Under the One China policy, the US recognizes China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized the Communist Party’s claim to a self-governing island of 23 million people. The US provides defensive weapons to Taiwan, but is deliberately ambiguous about whether it will intervene militarily if China attacks.

Biden reaffirmed his commitment to this policy in an interview with 60 Minutes.

“We agree with what we signed a long time ago. And that there is a “one China” policy, and Taiwan itself judges its independence. We are not moving – we are not encouraging their independence … This is their decision, ”he said.

But when asked whether U.S. forces would defend the island, he replied: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

As of Monday morning, China has not responded to Biden’s comments. Earlier, Beijing expressed “strong disagreement” with similar comments by the US president and accused Washington of violating the “one China” principle.

Biden’s comments on Sunday are likely to spark more speculation about possible changes in US policy toward Taiwan, but analysts noted that his choice of words leaves room for interpretation and is by no means unambiguous.

Drew Thompson, Visiting Senior Fellow, School of Public Policy. Lee Kuan Yew, at the National University of Singapore, said that “we are always tempted to read a lot in the president’s statements,” but Biden’s point of view has not really changed.

Thompson, a former US Department of Defense official, said the specific nature of any US defense does not necessarily mean that US boots will work in Taiwan.

In the event of any Chinese attack on the island, the Pentagon would provide Biden with a “range of options” for deploying US forces, he said.

The use of US naval or air forces in an offshore role, even US cyber activity to prevent a possible Chinese invasion, or simply a show of US power in the region could all be among those options.

Biden’s latest statement could further aggravate relations between the US and China following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. Beijing responded to her trip with unprecedented military exercises across the island.

The issue of Taiwan was also among the key topics of discussion during Last week’s meeting between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a regional summit in Uzbekistan, where both men agreed that Chinese sovereignty over the island was an immutable “red line”.

Xi also said he appreciates Russia’s “commitment to the One China principle” and stressed that Taiwan is part of China.

The debate over the possibility of a potential Chinese invasion has intensified since Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and many analysts point out that Beijing is likely to keep a close eye on the situation in Europe.

The US intelligence community has made it clear that China is actively trying to build a military capable of taking over Taiwan, even with US support for the island.

Last week, CIA Deputy Director David Cohen said that while Xi has not made a decision to invade Taiwan, he wants the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to be able to take control of the island by 2027.

The US intelligence community does not believe Beijing has made a decision on whether or not to continue, Cohen said, adding that Xi would prefer to gain control of Taiwan “by non-military means.”

The CIA spokesman also said the agency is paying close attention to what lessons China is learning from the war in Ukraine.

“We are watching very closely how the Chinese understand the situation in Ukraine — how the Russians acted, how the Ukrainians acted, and the implications of that for their own plans in Taiwan,” Cohen said.

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