President Joe Biden said Washington could be directly involved in conflict should China try to take the island by force
US President Joe Biden indicated on Monday that Washington is willing to use military force to defend Taiwan if necessary. Speaking at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in Tokyo, he explained that the US sees the idea of China "going in" with its troops as unacceptable.
When asked if the US would become directly involved in a conflict between China and Taiwan, including through the use of military force, Biden said "Yes," adding that "it's a commitment we made." The US leader has previously said Washington respects the 'One China' policy, by which it recognizes that there is only one China led by Beijing.
Biden, however, maintained that China has no "jurisdiction to go in and use force to take over Taiwan." The idea that the island nation "can be taken by force is just not appropriate. It will dislocate the whole region," the US president added.
The US leader is on his first official tour of Asia. It is also the first time this century that such a trip has not included a visit to China. According to Nikkei Asia news outlet, deterring China has been one of the major topics at the talks between Biden and Kishida. The US president is being accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during the talks.
Biden is also scheduled to meet the leaders of Japan, India and Australia on Tuesday during the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) summit. The US president is also expected to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework later on Monday. The trade pact is designed to deepen America's cooperation with the nations in the region in the fields of supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, and the fight against corruption.
The pact may eventually involve up to 12 nations apart from the US, including Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Taiwan will not be part of it, Sullivan confirmed on Sunday.
"We are looking to deepen our economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high technology issues, including on semiconductor supply," he said. "But we're pursuing that in the first instance on a bilateral basis."
Taiwan has recently accused China of repeatedly violating its defense zone. In early May, the island nation reported that China's nuclear-capable bombers entered the zone. Taiwan has been de facto self-governed since 1949, when the remnants of the nationalist government fled the mainland after their defeat in the civil war, but never formally declared independence from China. Beijing considers the Taiwanese authorities to be separatists, insisting that the territory is an inalienable part of China.
Beijing has regularly flexed its military muscle near the island, buzzing it with large aircraft units and sending in warships. Taiwan has also been a source of constant friction between China and the US. America does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taipei but enjoys close military cooperation with the island. Washington has also long proclaimed its commitment to protecting Taiwan's "independence."