China’s Military Taunting Games towards Taiwan and U.S.

November 6, 2021

chinas military taunting

China’s military taunting toward Taiwan and President Joe Biden’s mixed messages are igniting a debate on Capitol Hill over whether to adopt a more aggressive official posture – including the possibility of Biden to use military force if Beijing invades the island nation.

In August, ABC television asked US President Joe Biden what he thought of Chinese media’s claims that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan without a fight had shown Taiwan that Washington could not be relied on to come to its defend.

Biden replied that the US commitments to Taiwan, South Korea and NATO were different situations that what had happened in Afghanistan. “We made a sacred commitment to [NATO treaty] Article 5 that if, in fact, anyone was to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond,” Bidden said. “Same with Japan, same with Korea, same with – Taiwan.” Biden added.

The ‘most powerful military’

China’s military taunting games

Biden was asked at a CNN town hall whether the United States was willing and able to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China, Biden answered: “yes and we are committed to do that.”

“China, Russia, and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world”, Biden responded. “Don’t worry about whether we are going to – they are going to be more powerful.”

The US president appeared to be referring to a 90-minute conversation he had with Xi on September 9. And while his remark appeared aimed at calming fears, it only caused confusion. Because there is no official agreement between Beijing and Washington about Taiwan.

Clarification from the White House

China’s military taunting games

White House officials quickly clarifies that there had not been a change in the US policy with regard to Taiwan and President Biden was reiterating the US commitment to Taiwan’s defense. Most members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, are reluctant to give the President a front-end authority to intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

A senior administration official told POLITICO that the White House will “continue to engage with Congress on these important matters” and that the Biden administration remains committed to the existing US policy toward Taiwan.

Strategic ambiguity

China’s military taunting games

Though, at the same time, some lawmakers are expressing an openness to further bolstering Taiwan’s defensive capabilities – in ways that could muddle the strategic ambiguity policy.

The strategic ambiguity policy was adopted after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, with US-Taiwan ties becoming unofficial.

The purpose of this policy is not only to deter China from using force against Taiwan but also to deter Taiwan from seeking independence, as neither Beijing nor Taipei can feel certain the United States would intervene to defend the island should a conflict arise, according to experts.

With China appearing to become most assertive toward Taiwan, as seen through repeated intrusions of Chinese military planes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, some lawmakers have called for clarity in US policy.

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