TOKYO – President Biden on Monday opened the second chapter of his Asia tour with a series of steps – some choreographed, others apparently not – indicating a more divisive approach to China in both economic and national security as his administration seeks to curb Chinese influence. The most populous nation in the world.
At a news conference Monday, Biden said the United States would defend Taiwan militarily in the face of an attack by China, despite its policy of “strategic ambiguity.” Later, his administration announced the outline of a new trade agreement aimed at strengthening US economic relations with other Indo-Pacific countries.
This weekend, Biden will attend a meeting of the Quad, a partnership between the United States, India, Japan and Australia that is partly aimed at tackling China’s power globally.
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On Taiwan, a White House official almost immediately retracted his remarks, saying that Biden had only reaffirmed his commitment to a 1979 law that called on the United States to provide Taiwan with military means to defend itself. The United States has maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity towards the island, meaning that it will deliberately obscure what it will do to protect Taiwan.
Taken together, however, it emphasizes the Biden administration’s aggressive tactics to blunt China’s growing influence – as the president draws parallels between the current conflict arising out of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the potential conflict between China and Taiwan.
“Russia has to pay a long-term price for the sanctions that have been imposed,” Biden told a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the Akasaka Palace. And Russia, and if these sanctions are not sustained in various ways, what signal does it send to China about the cost of trying to occupy Taiwan by force? “
Although the president said he did not expect such an attack, Biden said China was “already flirting with danger” and that despite the United States’ “one-China” policy, “this does not mean that China … has the authority to go and occupy Taiwan.” Use force to do. “
Julia Mio Inuma of Tokyo and Michael E. Miller of Sydney contributed to this report.