China 'taunting Taiwan' with Afghanistan crisis says expert
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The “America First” policy stance in the US, which generally emphasises nationalist and non-interventionism, had been pursued by former US President Donald Trump since his election in 2016. Mr Biden appears to have continued the “America First” way of thinking, a move that has been largely driven with guiding the US through the Covid pandemic. The US and President Joe Biden have been at loggerheads with China over issues including trade, espionage and the pandemic, which have threatened to send escalating tensions between the West and Beijing boiling over.
Earlier this US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accused China of acting more aggressively abroad than at home, warning a military confrontation is not in the best interest of either of the global superpowers.
He said although China was acting like “someone who’s trying to compete unfairly and increasingly in adversarial ways, we’re much more effective and stronger when we’re bringing like-minded and similarly aggrieved countries together to say to Beijing: ‘This can’t stand, and it won’t stand’.”
China has its own issues with Taiwan and considers the island as part of its territory, threatening to unify the two sides by force, if necessary.
Throughout this year, Mr Biden’s administration has ramped up support for Taiwan, including releasing new guidelines enabling US officials to increase their direct engagement with Taipei.
Barbara Kelemen, associate and the lead intelligence analyst for Asia at security intelligence firm Dragonfly (the new identity of the former Intelligence & Analysis practice of The Risk Advisory Group), believes the foreign policy focus from the US is quickly focusing more on China and Taiwan.
When asked what is the current US foreign policy and whether Mr Biden is continuing the “America First” standpoint, she told Express.co.uk: “The current administration is responding to a lot of domestic issues, so a lot of focus has been on issues domestically.
“We are seeing more focus on China and Taiwan.
“That has become much more present when it comes to the overall strategic view from the Biden administration and clearly the focus is heading in that direction, as opposed to the Middle East.”
On Thursday, a Biden administration official said the US policy on Taiwan remains unchanged after the President appeared to suggest the US would defend the island if it were attacked, a deviation from a long-held US position of “strategic ambiguity”.
During an interview with ABC News, he was asked about the impact of the much-criticised US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and responses in the media in China telling Taiwan this showed the US could not be relied upon to back it up.
The President replied Taiwan, South Korea and NATO were almost different situations to what is happening in Afghanistan, and appeared to group Taiwan together with countries that Washington has explicit defence commitments.
He said: “They are entities we’ve made agreements with based on not a civil war they’re having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement where they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep bad guys from doing bad things to them.
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“We have made – kept every commitment. We made a sacred commitment to Article 5 that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond.
“Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with – Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about that.”
A senior Biden administration official was later forced to clarify the US “policy with regard to Taiwan has not changed”.
When asked about the comments from Mr Biden, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying insisted Taiwan is an unmovable part of Chinese territory.
She told a regular briefing: “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s resolve, determination and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
By law, the US is required to prove Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but Washington has for several years followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene from a military perspective if China attacked the island.
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