US President Joe Biden said “yes” to a question about whether US service members would be employed to protect Taiwan in the case of a Chinese assault during an interview with CBS 60 minutes on Sunday, immediately before attending the burial of Queen Elizabeth II.
It’s not the first time Biden has expressed his views on possible American engagement in a crisis in such a frank manner. The third time in a year, in fact. But each time, the White House has recanted, saying that its position on the island “has not changed.”
But at this point, it’s hard to call it a mistake worth overlooking, and Beijing isn’t likely to feel the same way any longer. They believe that the US’s “strategic ambiguity” strategy is coming to an end and that the US is irrevocably heading toward de facto support for Taiwan independence in order to control China.
When the United States endorsed the “One China Policy” and normalized ties with the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s, Congress moved rapidly to impose the “Taiwan Relations Act” on the Presidency in order to formally establish US commitment to the island.
JUST IN – Biden: American troops would defend Taiwan if invaded by China.pic.twitter.com/Ah3llGIXX4
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 19, 2022
The policy of strategic ambiguity, or the lack of clarity as to whether the US would directly intervene in the event of a contingency, was born when the US stated that it would support “peaceful reunification” but that in the process was required to provide the island with a “means to defend itself.”
The US has sometimes sold weaponry to the island, angering Beijing, but other than one crisis in the 1990s, everything has been stable for decades. But the world in which we now live has radically changed. In order to prevent reunification completely, the US is reneging on its commitment to the “One China Policy” and “strategic ambiguity,” expanding its unqualified support for Taiwan.
Even while the US insists on maintaining the “status quo,” it is clear from its actions that they have aimed to force Beijing into a corner in order to fundamentally upset the balance between the two.
The highly provocative visit by Nancy Pelosi, the influx of hawkish US congressmen, talk of the US imposing preemptive sanctions on China over Taiwan regardless of whether it invades, and the advancement of the Taiwan Policy Act, which aims to provide Taipei with billions in military aid, are all factors.
The severe response by China to these provocations, which included significant military drills, had no effect on the US and did not cause it to hesitate in the slightest. Instead, the events in Ukraine, where Washington backs Kiev against Russia, have given the US greater confidence to advance the Taiwan problem, namely since it stands by and lets other nations be destroyed while selling its armaments and utilizing media attention to advertise it. For instance, Taiwan intends to purchase US HIMARS rockets in 2023.
As a result, the US saw a greater possibility to provoke confrontation on purpose while positioning China as the aggressor. As the US displays no interest in peace or compromise, the only “strategic clarity” in the American approach appears to be the provocation plan.
In this situation, the US is already moving toward pushing Taiwan’s legal independence at any costs as a strategy to control China. It is widely acknowledged that the US is being dishonest and empty when it pays lip respect to the “One China Policy.” Any remaining faith has been destroyed by Biden’s repeated claims that the US would defend the island.
As a result of this, Taipei has likewise raised the ante in its provocative actions against Beijing, believing that the US is on its side. Since Pelosi’s visit, it has insulted China once again by inviting a large number of US politicians and public personalities in the length of a single month.
In this case, Beijing is virtually compelled to take action. What will it do when the strategic environment tightens in the face of such provocations? How does it react to an aggressive US that becomes worse by the week?
China understands that launching a conflict might have terrible repercussions and that doing so would help the US by allowing it to reshape the international security environment in its favor.
Although Beijing has sought to exercise strategic patience over Taiwan, the time for peaceful reunification is rapidly narrowing. Wars, however, frequently start out of need and despair.
This suggests that a confrontation may be more imminent or likely than we realize. The US is aware of this, of course, and, similar to its goals with Ukraine, it is extremely hopeful that it can mobilize public sentiment against China, compel its friends to comply with its demands, and profit handsomely in the process.
No matter how often Biden or the White House state that “we support the One China Policy,” strategic ambiguity is all but gone. Words are less powerful than deeds.