The Biden Administration Has Shown Unwavering Support for Taiwan – The Diplomat

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Ten months into the Biden administration, it is abundantly clear that the United States will continue to strengthen ties with Taiwan and defend the island if it is ever attacked by China. As I have previously argued, the Biden administration has routinely signaled its willingness to do both of these things, in effect doubling-down on Trump administration-era policy. Since I last wrote about this topic in February, the Biden administration, through both word and deed, has continued to demonstrate that Taipei should have no worries about Washington’s commitment to the island.

Indeed, from its very first day in office, the Biden administration set the tone for a strong U.S.-Taiwan partnership. Biden’s new Indo-Pacific Coordinator, Kurt Campbell, invited Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, to the presidential inauguration ceremony. This was the first time a Taiwanese envoy had been invited since Washington switched diplomatic recognition away from Taiwan (the Republic of China) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979. During his Senate confirmation hearing in January to become Secretary of State, Antony Blinken argued in favor of keeping the Trump-era guidance intact to end self-imposed contact limits with Taiwan.

When Beijing later in the month flew up to then an historic number of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the Biden-run State Department issued a lengthy statement of staunch support for Taiwan, in part reading: “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives… the United States maintains its longstanding commitments as outlined in the Three Communiqués, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the Six Assurances… our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid.”

In early March, the Biden administration released its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which noted that the U.S. would “support Taiwan, a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner, in line with longstanding American commitments.” By mentioning Taiwan, the Biden team became only the second administration ever, after the Trump administration, to highlight Taiwan in a national security strategy, indicating the U.S. intent to ensure Taiwan’s de facto sovereignty in the face of growing Chinese aggression.

During an extensive interview in April with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Secretary Blinken responded to Todd’s question about whether the U.S. was prepared to defend Taiwan from Chinese attack. In a clear moment of reassurance to Taipei, Blinken stated: “All I can tell you is we have a serious commitment to Taiwan being able to defend itself… and in that context, it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change that status quo by force.”

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On April 16, President Biden welcomed then-Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide to the White House, and in their joint statement they underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” – a rare statement of support showing Taiwan that the U.S.-Japan alliance could be brought to bear in a cross-Strait conflict if the proper conditions were met. At the end of April, while at the Aspen Security Forum, Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan noted that the Biden administration would “approach the Taiwan issue… with steadiness, clarity and resolve with respect to our view that there should be no unilateral changes to the status quo.”

Then, in May, Blinken called for Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly in the face of Chinese opposition. In June, he announced the start of U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment talks, in effect reciprocating Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s decision to allow U.S. pork imports, which had long been a fraught issue in Taiwan. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in late July visited Singapore as part of a three-country Southeast Asia trip. While there, he highlighted the U.S. commitment to Taiwan in his prepared remarks, and when specifically asked whether he was concerned about the potential for a Chinese attack on Taiwan, he responded: “Nobody – no one wants to see a unilateral change to the status quo with respect to Taiwan. And again, we are committed to supporting Taiwan and its capability to, to defend itself.”

In early August, the Biden administration approved its first Taiwan arms sale. Shortly thereafter, the Taliban reclaimed Afghanistan, and Chinese propaganda went into overdrive to convince Taiwan that the United States was an untrustworthy security partner. Beijing sought to convince Taipei (and the world) that…



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