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Biden warns China against Taiwan takeover bid


By AFP
Published : 23 May 2022 09:51 PM | Updated : 24 May 2022 02:03 PM

US President Joe Biden vowed Monday that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily if China attempted to take control of the self-ruled island by force, warning Beijing was already "flirting with danger".

The remarks, made in Tokyo where he is meeting with Japan's prime minister ahead of a regional summit Tuesday, were Biden's strongest to date on the issue and come amid rising tensions over China's growing economic and military power.

Washington and allies like Japan have framed their tough response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a warning to others, especially China, against unilateral military action.

Biden hammered that message home after talks with Japanese Prime Minister  Fumio Kishida in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and  joint Chinese-Russia exercises.

Biden then went further. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved  militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: "Yes."

"That's the commitment we made," he added.  "We agreed with the One China policy, we signed on to it... but the idea that 

it can be taken by force is just not appropriate, it would dislocate the  entire region and would be another action similar to Ukraine," Biden said.

Biden directly linked the fates of Ukraine and Taiwan, saying Western  sanctions on Russia must exact a "long-term price" because otherwise "what 

signal does that send to China about the cost of attempting to take Taiwan by  force?"

He warned Beijing was already "flirting with danger right now by flying so  close and all the manoeuvres undertaken" -- referring to a growing number of  Chinese sorties, naval exercises and other power projections in the Taiwan  Straits. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin swiftly responded,  declaring that "no one should underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will 

and strong ability of the Chinese people in defending national sovereignty  and territorial integrity."

"China has no room for compromise or concession," the spokesman said. Like most nations, the United States diplomatically recognises Beijing over 

Taiwan. But it also maintains de facto diplomatic ties with the self-ruled,  democratic island. For decades it has maintained a policy of "strategic ambiguity" in which it  never makes clear what it would do in the event of an invasion while agreeing  to help Taiwan build its defences against attack from Beijing. The policy was designed both to keep Beijing from declaring war and also to 

stop Taiwan from formally declaring independence. Biden's remarks Monday overshadowed his rollout of a new, 13-nation regional 

trade framework as well as Tuesday's meeting of the Quad group.  The White House said that Biden was not diverging from the official "One 

China" policy, which includes the commitment to "provide Taiwan with the  military means to defend itself".

"Our policy has not changed," the official said. But Beijing's growing sabre-rattling on the issue, as well as Russia's 

Ukraine invasion, is shaking up the status quo. Among those augmenting diplomatic support for Taipei is Japan, which has 

regularly warned China against "unilateral" attempts to change the impasse. Kishida called for stability in the Taiwan Strait and said Tokyo was 

committed to boosting its defence spending, a sensitive subject in a country  with constitutional limits on its military.

"Japan will fundamentally strengthen its defence capacity, and to back that  up will significantly increase its defence spending," Kishida said at a joint 

press conference with Biden. "We don't rule out any options, including (acquiring) the capacity to 

counter-attack," he added. Biden is in Japan on the second leg of an Asia trip intended to reinforce 

regional ties and show Washington remains committed to the region despite its  heavy involvement with the crisis in Ukraine.

He finished his hectic day by joining Kishida and the prime minister's wife  in an upscale Tokyo restaurant set in a peaceful garden and serving sushi and  other traditional food.

Earlier, he announced Monday that 13 countries have joined a new, US-led  Asia-Pacific trade initiative touted as a counterweight to China's aggressive  expansion.

And on Tuesday, Biden meets with fellow Quad leaders from Japan, Australia  and India.

He arrived in Tokyo on Sunday after stopping in Seoul for talks with newly  elected President Yoon Suk-yeol.

While there, Biden said he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un if the leader-for- life is "sincere", despite the threat of a possible North Korean nuclear test hanging over the Asian tour.

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