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President Joe Biden vowed that the United States would “respond” to any possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, pushing back on criticism from Chinese state-run media that the U.S. debacle and Taliban takeover in Afghanistan should make the island of Taiwan question whether the U.S. would protect it or abandon it.
Biden made the remarks during an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, with Biden comparing the U.S. commitment to Taiwan to the commitment the U.S. has made to its NATO allies. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul had to be abandoned over the weekend, and Hamid Karzai International Airport erupted into chaos as crowds of Afghans attempted to flee when the Taliban marched into Kabul on Sunday, with thousands of Americans and Afghan allies stuck in the country.
Stephanopoulos said China was already telling Taiwan, “See? You can't count on the Americans.” Biden pushed back.
“Why wouldn't China say that?” Biden responded. “Look, George, the idea that we — there's a fundamental difference between Taiwan, South Korea, NATO. We are in a situation where they are in — entities we've made agreements with based on not a civil war they're having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement where they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep bad guys from doin' bad things to them.”
Biden argued: “We have made — kept every commitment. We made a sacred commitment to Article V that if, in fact, anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan. It's not even comparable to talk about that. … It's not comparable.”
Taiwan, known as the Republic of China, is an independent democratic island nation off the coast of mainland China. The Chinese Communist Party has long sought to bring the territory under its control, while Taiwan is self-governed and receives U.S. defense support, despite not being formally recognized.
Chinese state media quickly began exploiting the debacle in Afghanistan to push propaganda aimed at Taiwan, questioning America's commitment there. The state-run Global Times said Monday that the “U.S. will abandon Taiwan in a crisis given its tarnished credibility” and that “Washington just left despite the worsening situation in Kabul. Is this some kind of omen of Taiwan's future fate?” The outlet said Wednesday that “Chinese analysts” had “said that once the price for keeping its strategic interests with Taiwan becomes unbearable, the U.S. will abandon Taiwan island without hesitation.” And the Chinese propaganda arm on Thursday pointed to the alleged "huge blow to U.S.’s reputation as an ally" and speculated that "Taiwan will be tomorrow's Afghanistan being abandoned by the U.S.”
China also carried out large assault drills off the coast of Taiwan on Tuesday, sending ships and jets off the island’s coast.
Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday: “We believe that our commitments to our allies and partners are sacrosanct and always have been. We believe our commitment to Taiwan and to Israel remains as strong as it’s ever been.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, “We stand by, as is outlined in the Taiwan Relations Agreement, by our — by individuals in Taiwan. We stand by partners around the world who are subject to this kind of propaganda that Russia and China are projecting.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Wednesday that Taiwan needed to increase its strength in response to the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
Admiral Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said on March 9 in front of the Senate that “the PRC has adopted an increasingly assertive military posture to exert pressure and expand its influence across the region. This is particularly stark concerning Taiwan.” He warned that China might move to take control of the island nation by 2029.
“I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order, which they’ve long said that they want to do that by 2050,” Davidson said. “I’m worried about them moving that target closer. Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy