This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

 

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Will President Biden save Taiwan?

Posted 12/10/2021, By Michael Cavalier – Editor

The United States has made its stance on the global stage clear regarding Taiwan. While it remains an unofficial ally, the US does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country and will not intervene in conflicts between the two nations. Despite this, China could be forced to take action in order to protect Taiwan from US influence. With President Biden heading to Taiwan after years of avoiding the nation, many are wondering if this visit will change US relations with Taiwan and if it will make China act aggressively in order to save Taiwan from President Biden’s actions.

After four decades, a self-ruled island democracy may again be in peril. During his first trip to China as vice president, President Joe Biden (then representing Barack Obama) was asked point-blank by China’s leaders whether Washington would interfere if Beijing asserted sovereignty over Taiwan. According to The New York Times, Biden told them that there is no change to our One-China policy and he assured them that America will continue its commitment to a one-China policy and there is no change to our strong support for human rights in China. If true—and Chinese media say it is—this constitutes an intentional shift from more than 40 years of US foreign policy.

The United States has sold billions of dollars worth of arms to Taiwan since 1979. American law requires that any sale come with a guarantee that weapons shipments will not be used against China, but we don’t enforce these stipulations strictly enough. In 2014, Congress passed and Then President Obama signed into law new sanctions on military sales because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. When Russia responded by threatening to target US forces in Europe with nuclear weapons, some wondered aloud if it was time for America to announce Article 5–like guarantees toward allies like Japan and South Korea.

Those kinds of guarantees are never simple; they involve unexpected challenges, like how best to defend commercial shipping lanes or exactly what intelligence cooperation must occur before publicly identifying another nation as a threat under Article 5 standards. The US has said for years that if China invades Taiwan, it will step in to defend it. But does that commitment still stand under a different president? Will President Joe Biden protect Taiwan from China or not, and how will he do it if he decides to intervene on Taipei’s behalf? Here are 5 reasons why we think that Washington would be crazy not to defend its long-time ally—and one reason they might get away with not doing so.

A willingness [by China] to use force is growing…: Dr. David Shambaugh of George Washington University is one of America’s leading China specialists and believes that his adopted home country could soon clash with Beijing over Taiwan.

While most Americans see the conflict between Beijing and Taipei as increasingly unlikely, I view it as becoming more likely by the day, Shambaugh told Foreign Policy magazine earlier this year. Indeed, I believe there is now a significant possibility of conflict across the Strait within five years.

Meanwhile, another expert told lawmakers last month that U.S intervention is already viewed by Beijing as a necessary prelude before taking any military action against its offshoot state…

American treaty obligations require defending them …: Under America’s mutual defense treaty with Taiwan, which was negotiated during Dwight Eisenhower’s administration, an attack on Taiwan is considered an attack on Washington D.C., promising an automatic response from Uncle Sam.

That hasn’t changed since 1979 despite several efforts by Beijing to sabotage relations between Taipei and Washington 3. It would damage Sino-American relations …: In 1995 after Bill Clinton passed the controversial

‘Taiwan Relations Act’, Chinese officials warned him in no uncertain terms that further moves to upgrade relations with Taipei could lead to war with Beijing – including threatening to target Chinese nuclear missiles at major cities such as Los Angeles

4.It could encourage pro-independence groups …: With both presidential candidates supporting Taiwan and opposing reunification, it is believed to have strengthened calls among some of its 23 million people for independence rather than seeking unification with China.

Although that may be music to some ears in Washington, others argue that it has also encouraged pro-independence groups to push forward their agenda into Taiwanese politics 5. Bequeathing a weapon to our enemies… :

Admiral Mike Mullen called Taiwan America’s greatest strategic liability back in 2009 because any move to support her would provoke an angry reaction from mainland authorities who regard the island as part of their territory.

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