President Biden vows to defend Taiwan, shatters Xi’s unification dream

Published on Sep 19, 2022 09:55 AM IST

US President Joe Biden’s emphatic words on Taiwan indicate that America is as much focused on China as it is on Russia in the context of the ongoing Ukraine war.

US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s dream of unifying the breakaway Republic Taiwan with the mainland may turn into a nightmare with President Joe Biden saying that US troops would defend Taipei in case of an “unprecedented attack” by the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Despite clarification by the White House post Biden statement, this is the fourth time that the US President and Chief Executive has openly said that America would defend Taiwan. White House, as in the past, added that there was no change in US policy towards Taiwan post statement.

In his most explicit statement, President Joe Biden in an interview with CBS’s 60 minutes, aired on Sunday, said ‘yes’ to US forces defending the island republic if there was an unprecedented attack by the Chinese Army.

Despite the convulsions with the US State Department over his statement, President Joe Biden’s emphatic words provide much-needed succor to Taiwan, Japan and some Southeast Asian countries who are at the receiving end of Beijing’s wolf warrior diplomacy and military belligerence of the PLA in the Indo-Pacific. The PLA has also been involved in a 28-month military stand-off with the Indian Army in the East Ladakh sector after Beijing decided to unilaterally change the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in East Ladakh sector beefing up its military positions all along the 3488 km line.

President Biden’s statement clearly indicates that America is as much focused on China in the context of Taiwan as it is on Russia in the context of the ongoing Ukraine war. But the fundamental difference is that while in Ukraine, the US is supplying billions of dollars worth of weapons to Kyviv to defend itself from the Red Army invasion, the US President in case of Taiwan is willing to commit American troops on the ground to defend against the PLA. This means that US military presence in the Indo-Pacific will grow to deter any Chinese aggression against Taiwan or Japan.

President Biden’s unequivocal statement will add more strength to the QUAD grouping as all the four partners face either military or diplomatic or trade friction with China. Given the proximity of Japanese territory to Taiwan, any military emergency on Taipei will drag Tokyo into the conflict and this was reflected in Chinese missiles landing in the Japanese EEZ post visit of Nancy Pelosi to the island republic.

The continued pressure from President Biden will also refrain China from opening fronts with other democratic countries and deter newfound supporters of Beijing in the Indian sub-continent and within the Asean.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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