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TOKYO: President Biden indicated on Monday that he would use military force to defend Taiwan if it were ever attacked by China, dispensing with the “strategic ambiguity” traditionally favoured by US presidents and repeating even more unequivocally statements that his staff tried to walk back in the past. At a news conference with Japan PM Fumio Kishida during a visit to Tokyo, Biden suggested that he would be willing to go further on behalf of Taiwan than he has in helping Ukraine, where he has provided tens of billions of dollars in arms as well as intelligence assistance to help defeat Russian invaders but refused to send American troops.
“You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons,” a reporter said to Biden. “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” “Yes,” Biden answered flatly. “You are?” the reporter followed up. “That’s the commitment we made,” he said. “We agree with a one-China policy. We’ve signed on to it and all the intended agreements made from there. But the idea that, that it (Taiwan) can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not, is just not appropriate,” he said. Biden added it was his expectation that such an event would not happen or be attempted.
The president’s declaration set the stage for fresh tensions between the US and China, which insists that Taiwan is a part of its territory. It also surprised members of Biden’s own administration. The US has historically warned China against using force against Taiwan while generally remaining vague about how far it would go to aid the island in such a circumstance. A White House official later said there was no change in policy toward Taiwan, a point reiterated by defence secretary Lloyd Austin at a Pentagon briefing. “As the president said, our ‘one China’ policy has not changed,” Austin said. He said Biden had stressed the US commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act “to help provide Taiwan the means to defend itself.”
But Biden’s comments went beyond simply reiterating that the US would provide Taiwan with arms. The president made no effort to qualify what he intended when he agreed that he would “get involved militarily.” In fact, he repeated the notion that his commitment to Taiwan went beyond what he had done for Ukraine. “The idea that that can be taken by force, it’s just not appropriate,” he said of Taiwan. “It would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it’s a burden that is even stronger.” agencies


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