Biden says he would be willing to use force to defend Taiwan

US President Joe Biden said on Monday he would be prepared to use force to defend Taiwan, rallying support on his first trip to Asia since taking office for US opposition to China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Biden’s comments appeared to depart from the existing US policy of so-called strategic ambiguity over its position on the self-governing island that China considers its territory and says is the most sensitive and important issue in its dealings with United States.

Asked by a reporter in Tokyo if the United States would defend Taiwan if attacked by China, the president replied, “Yes.”

“That’s the commitment we made…We agree with the one-China policy. We signed it and all the planned agreements went from there. But the idea that she could be taken by force, just taken by force, just isn’t, just isn’t appropriate.”

Comments overshadow economic plans

He added that he expected such an event would not happen or be attempted.

While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

Biden made a similar comment about defending Taiwan in October. At that time, a White House spokesperson said Biden was not announcing any changes in US policy.

Taiwanese airmen listen to President Tsai Ing-wen’s speech during her visit to an airbase in Hsinchu City, northern Taiwan, in April. (Chiang Ying-ying/Associated Press)

Comments on Taiwan risk overshadowing the centerpiece of Biden’s visit, the launch of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a broad blueprint providing an economic pillar for US engagement in Asia.

His visit also includes meetings with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, in the “Quad” group of countries.

Concerns over China’s growing power and the possibility that it could invade Taiwan have emboldened Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party on defense matters, eroding some of the traditional distrust among many Japanese. towards a more robust defensive position.

“A Force for Good”

Kishida said he told Biden that Japan would consider various options to bolster its defense capabilities, including the ability to retaliate, signaling a potential shift in Japan’s defense policy.

“A strong Japan and a strong U.S.-Japan alliance is a force for good in the region,” Biden said at a press conference following their talks.

Kishida said he had secured Biden’s support for Japan to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council amid growing calls for council reform. China and Russia are permanent members.

“President Biden has expressed the need to reform and strengthen the United Nations, including the Security Council, which bears major responsibility for the peace and security of the international community,” Kishida said.

“President Biden has expressed support for Japan becoming a permanent member of the reformed Security Council.”

Concerns are growing in Asia about an increasingly assertive China, especially in light of its close ties to Russia, and tension has risen over Taiwan, which China views as a renegade province.