For the third time in nine months, President Joe Biden said the right words: If China attacks Taiwan, yes, the United States will respond militarily to defend Taipei.
“That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said at a joint press conference Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. “We agree with the ‘one China’ policy. We signed on to it. All of the attendant agreements [were] made from there. But the idea that that can be taken by force, just taken by force. It’s just not — it’s just not appropriate.”
Some mixed signals there. Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, America isn’t obliged to militarily defend Taiwan, but only to ensure it has the resources to defend itself.
Biden obviously intends to go beyond that, having said it three times (unless he’s even more mentally lost than we think). But White House aides again “clarified” that he doesn’t mean what he said, and US policy hasn’t changed.
Sorry, who’s the commander-in-chief here?
Instead of Biden’s toughness standing as a warning to China’s Xi Jinping, the signal is all Keystone Kops.
So, with Beijing ramping up aggression across the Taiwan Strait, Washington needs to take concrete steps to make the island democracy too risky to attack. Don’t (as with Ukraine) wait until after an invasion to send help: Get Taipei more weapons and other support now.
Plus, beef up US military capabilities in the region and, as the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass has repeatedly urged, work more closely on defense with Japan and Australia. Get European allies on board, too, at least with specific sanctions they’ll impose if an attack hits.
If this isn’t to be another “that man cannot remain in power,” Biden needs to get the government he runs visibly moving to make Taiwan too tough a nut to crack.