No change in US policy on China and Taiwan, says Biden
US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday there was no change in US policy of “strategic ambiguity” on China-Taiwan, a day after he appeared to push the boundaries of the US line on the island saying it would be ready to use force to defend it in the event of a Sino-Taiwanese conflict.
The China-Taiwan question hangs over a meeting in Tokyo of the leaders of the Quad grouping from the United States, Japan, Australia and India, who underlined their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China.
While Washington is required by law to provide self-governing Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about whether it would intervene militarily to protect it in the event of a Chinese attack – a Biden convention had appeared to break Monday.
On Tuesday, Biden, who was asked if there had been a change in US policy on Taiwan, replied, “No.”
“The policy has not changed at all. I said that when I made my statement yesterday,” he said after a series of discussions with his Quad colleagues.
China regards Taiwan as an inalienable part of its territory and says it is the most sensitive and important issue in its relationship with Washington.
Biden’s comment Monday, when he offered US military support for Taiwan, was the latest in a string of seemingly off-the-cuff assertions that suggest his personal inclination is to defend it.
Some critics said he misspoke on the matter, or blundered, and that his confusion in the waters risked accelerating China’s will to act, without wearing the muscle of a guarantee. formal security.
But other political analysts have suggested that given Biden’s vast experience in foreign policy and the context in which he made these remarks, alongside the Japanese prime minister and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he doesn’t didn’t speak badly.
SEE ALSO: Biden says US ready to use military force to defend Taiwan
China-Taiwan was not an official item on the Quad’s agenda and Biden spoke more about Ukraine, condemning Russia’s invasion as a global issue.
“Russia’s assault on Ukraine only heightens the importance of these goals of fundamental principles of international order, territorial integrity and sovereignty. International law, human rights must always be upheld no matter where in the world they are violated,” he said.
Biden said the United States would stand with its “close democratic partners” to push for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida echoed Biden’s condemnation of Russia, saying his invasion “shakes the foundations of the international order” and was a direct challenge to United Nations principles.
“We should not allow similar things to happen in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention Ukraine, Russia or China in his opening speech.
India has frustrated the United States with what it sees as a lack of support for US sanctions against Russia and condemnation of its invasion.
Although India has developed close ties with the United States in recent years and is a vital part of the Quad group aimed at pushing back against China, it also has a long-standing relationship with Russiawhich remains a major supplier of its defense equipment and oil supply.
India abstained in UN Security Council votes on the Russian invasion, despite raising concerns about some killings of Ukrainian civilians.
Albanese focuses on climate change
New Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said his goals are aligned with Quad priorities, telling fellow leaders he wants them all to lead the fight against climate change.
“The region expects us to work with them and lead by example,” he said.
“That’s why my government will take ambitious action on climate change and increase our support to partners in the region as they work to address it, including with new funding.”
China has extended its influence in the Pacific where island nations face some of the most direct risks from rising seas.
On India’s stance on Ukraine, a US official said Biden, who is due to hold bilateral talks with Modi later on Tuesday, would seek common ground, stressing the importance of a face-to-face meeting.
“It’s true that there are differences with all members of the quad, the question is how they are treated and how they are managed,” the official said during a briefing to reporters ahead of the talks.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard