said Monday that the United States would intervene militarily if China attempts to take Taiwan by force, a warning that appeared to deviate from the deliberate ambiguity traditionally held by Washington.
The White House quickly downplayed the comments, saying they don’t reflect a change in US policy. It’s the third time in recent months – that Biden has said the US would protect Taiwan from a Chinese attack, only to have the White House walk back those remarks.
During a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Biden was asked if the US would be willing to go further to help Taiwan in the event of an invasion than it did with Ukraine.
“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?” a reporter asked.
“Yes,” Biden replied. “That’s the commitment we made.”
“We agree with the 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 said.
Under the “One China” policy, the US acknowledges China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized Beijing’s claim to the self-governing island of 23 million. The US provides Taiwan defensive weapons, but has remained intentionally ambiguous on whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.
Biden’s strong warning was made right on China’s doorstep during his first trip to Asia as President. The visit is aimed at uniting allies and partners to counter China’s rising influence. It also came a day before Biden is scheduled to attend the second in-person summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) – an informal grouping between the US, Japan, Australia and India that has alarmed Beijing.
Within hours, China had expressed its “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to Biden’s comments, saying it will not allow any external force to interfere in its “internal affairs.”
“On issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for compromise,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“We urged the US side to earnestly follow the One China principle … be cautious in words and deeds on the Taiwan issue, and not send any wrong signal to pro-Taiwan independence and separatist forces — so it won’t cause serious damage to the situation across the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian added, “We urge the US to stop saying or doing anything in violation of the one-China principle and the three China-US Joint Communiqués. … Those who play with fire will certainly burn themselves.”
Taiwan lies fewer than 110 miles (177 kilometers) off the coast of China. For more than 70 years the two sides have been governed separately, but that hasn’t stopped China’s ruling Communist Party from claiming the island as its own — despite having never controlled it.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said that “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at the highest they’ve been in recent decades, with the Chinese military sending record numbers of war planes near the island.
Joanne Ou, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told CNN that it “expresses sincere welcome and gratitude to President Biden and the United States government for reiterating its rock solid commitment to Taiwan.
Biden on Monday compared a potential invasion of Taiwan by China to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, warning, “It will dislocate the entire region,” and emphasizing “Russia has to pay a long-term price for its actions.”
“And the reason I bother to say this, not just about Ukraine – if, in fact, after all (Russian President Vladimir Putin has) done, there’s a rapprochement … between the Ukrainians and Russia, and these sanctions are not continued to be sustained in many ways, then what signal does that send to China about the cost of attempting, attempting to take Taiwan by force?”
Biden said that China is “already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers they’re undertaking.”
“But the United States is committed, we made a commitment, we support the One China policy, we support all we’ve done in the past, but that does not mean, it does not mean that China has the ability, has the, excuse me, jurisdiction to go in and use force to take over Taiwan,” he added.
At the press conference, Kishida also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability 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,” he said.
“As the regional security environment becomes increasingly severe, I reaffirmed with President Biden that we need to speedily strengthen the deterrence and response of the Japan-US alliance,” he said, adding that he conveyed his determination to “fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defense capability.”
Japan just found 7,000 islands it didn’t know it had
Japan has recounted its islands – and discovered it has 7,000 more than it previously thought.
Digital mapping by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) recently found there to be 14,125 islands in Japanese territory, more than double the figure of 6,852 that has been in official use since a 1987 report by Japan’s Coast Guard.
However, the GSI this week stressed that the new figure reflected advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used for the count – it did not change the overall area of land in Japan’s possession.
It said that while there is no international agreement on how to count islands, it had used the same size criterion as the previous survey 35 years ago.
That entailed counting all naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 meters (330 feet).
The new number does not include any artificially reclaimed land.
The islands surrounding Japan have been at the heart of several territorial disputes.
Japan lays claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, a dispute that dates to the end of World War II, when Soviet troops seized them from Japan.
Japan also says it has a historical claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it currently administers, but China has repeatedly challenged that claim.
Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea remain locked in a more than 70-year dispute over the sovereignty of a group of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea calls the East Sea.
Yosemite National Park to partially reopen after 3-week closure
Yosemite National Park will begin to reopen Saturday with limited access and hours, the US National Park Service has announced. The park remains closed today.
The popular park, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, was closed because of a series of damaging storms that have swept across the region in recent weeks.
Charles and Camilla
Britain’s King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, have been married since 2005. They reportedly met at a polo match in 1970 and became friends when Charles was a prince.
When Charles joined the Royal Navy in 1971, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles.
Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981 but then admitted in 1994 that he had been having an extramarital affair with Camilla. Diana confirmed his infidelity and her own the following year.
Camilla got a divorce in 1995, and Charles and Diana divorced in 1996. Camilla all but vanished from public life at the time as public and media support swung behind Diana.
In 1999, Clarence House embarked on a program to reintroduce Camilla to the public with a carefully orchestrated first appearance with Charles outside the Ritz Hotel in London.
Six years later, their decades-long love story culminated in a wedding that had the consent of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Camilla was confirmed as Charles’ official consort and future queen.
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