Calling all allies: Here's what happened on Biden’s mission-driven tour of Asia

·4 min read

In a news conference held Monday in Tokyo, President Biden gave an unequivocal “yes,” when asked if the U.S. would militarily step in if China were to attack Taiwan.

In the joint conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a reporter asked Biden, “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily, for obvious reasons, are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”

Without pausing, Biden responded with an unwavering and confident “yes.”

“You are?” The reporter asked again to confirm.

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“That’s a commitment we made,” nodded Biden.

“We agree with a One-China policy. We signed on to it, and all the attendant agreements made from there, but the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is [just not] appropriate,” he added.

China and Taiwan

The “One-China, two systems policy” asserts that there is one China, with Taiwan as a Chinese territory; however, the territory would be permitted to have its own government. Taiwan, known formally as the Republic of China, on the other hand, recognizes itself as an independent nation.

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Tensions have further grown between the two amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, during which the looming question of whether China would invade Taiwan next has led to nations scrambling to reinforce ties with allies.

In a phone call with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Beijing diplomat Yang Jiechi responded with a warning: “If the U.S. side insists on playing the Taiwan card and goes further and further down the wrong road, it will certainly lead to a dangerous situation.”

Biden’s Asia Tour

Biden’s visit to the Indo-Pacific comes at a critical time in which the president appears to be rallying the support of allies to trump China’s reach in the region.

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He kicked off his four-day trip to Asia, from May 20-24, with South Korea, where he met with new President Yoon Seok-yeol to discuss economic policies that sought to boost ties between the two and North Korea’s nuclear threats. The U.S. president then arrived in Japan on Sunday to prepare for his meeting with Japanese Emperor Naruhuito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for Monday.

On May 24, the tour concluded with a Quad summit hosted at the Kantei Palace of Tokyo, composed of Japan’s Kishida, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s prime minister-elect, Anthony Albanese.

Japan

Biden first met with the Japanese Emperor in a 30-minute meeting at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to reiterate the the U.S. and Japan’s “strong bond,” in which Biden assured that the island nation was the U.S.’ most important partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Biden then held a news conference with Japan’s prime minister, where he answered that the U.S. would militarily intervene if China were to attack Taiwan.

In response to Biden’s comment, Japan’s Kishida also made a statement of support for peace in the Taiwan Strait.

“Attempts to change the status quo by force, like Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific, above all, in East Asia,” said Kishida.

In addition to Japan, Biden met with India and Australia, countries that make up the “Quad,” to discuss economic strategies that would create less of a dependence on China as a trading partner.

The possible threat of China to Taiwan was a central topic of discussion during the summit.

Chinese and Russian warplanes have been sighted in both South Korea and Japan’s airspace, causing alarm in both countries. It was clear that tensions were ongoing among the world’s powers.

South Korea

The trend was also true during Biden’s Korea leg of the tour, in which he met with conglomerates Samsung Electronics — the world’s leader in semiconductor production — and Hyundai Motors, who is scheduled to build a plant in Savannah, Georgia. The U.S. leader praised President Yoon for his investment in America.

 

Featured Image via Reuters