Biden Signals Sharp Change in U.S. Taiwan Policy

Biden said on Monday the U.S. is willing to use force to defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese aggression. Biden’s comments are considered as a signal that the U.S. could leave its “strategic ambiguity” policy in Taiwan.

While Washington has been the biggest international supporter and the primary arms provider of Taiwan over the years, it has long followed the policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

When asked if the U.S. would defend Taiwan if it were attacked, Biden simply answered “yes”. He added that it’s a commitment the U.S. has made.

Biden further stated that while the U.S. agrees with the one China policy, the idea that Taiwan can be taken by force is not appropriate.

Regional nations, which have been concerned about Beijing’s rising influence, closely watch Biden’s stance against China. China has been a key issue for Biden in his trip to Asia.

Following Biden’s comments, U.S. Defense Secretary Austin said at a Pentagon briefing that there was no policy change toward Taiwan.

Beijing, which considers the island as part of its territory under its one China policy, considers it as the most sensitive and important matter in its relations with Washington.

Biden made a similar statement in October when asked if the U.S. would defend Taiwan. At that time, the White House insisted that Biden was not announcing a policy change toward the island.

While the White House insists that Biden’s comments did not represent a policy change, some analysts think they should be taken seriously and the statement is clear that the U.S. would not sit by in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

Biden’s statement could overshadow the primary target of his Japan visit, the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a comprehensive plan that provides an economic footing for U.S. engagement with Asia.

During his time in Tokyo, Biden is also scheduled to meet the leaders of India and Australia – the other members of the Quad, an informal security grouping formed to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japanese premier Kishida emphasized Tokyo’s readiness to take a more robust defense posture, something the United States has long welcomed.

Kishida said that he had gained support from Biden on Japan becoming a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council amid growing calls for reform of the council. China and Russia are permanent members.

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