Move over the war in Ukraine. Forget about the current economic downturn in the U.S. President Joe Biden seems to want to take on a fight with China over Taiwan.
On May 23, Biden pledged to defend Taiwan if it faced an attack from neighboring China.
Moving away from a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” the president said that to protect the island’s democracy, he would go beyond what the U.S. has done for Ukraine, The New York Times reported.
Biden said he would use the U.S. military to defend Taiwan if China ever attacked the island.
He made the remarks at a news conference during a visit to Japan.
The president’s declaration could heighten tensions between the U.S. and China, which insists that Taiwan is a part of its territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation.
Political observers wonder why Biden isn’t addressing the effects of the current war in Ukraine, which began when Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. A war with China over Taiwan could negatively affect the U.S. economy, which is overstretched due to covid, inflation and political divisions at home.
The total U.S. commitment to Ukraine during the Russian invasion is about $54 billion so far. That includes $31.4 billion in traditional foreign aid and $20.6 billion in military aid, along with other aid.
The war in Ukraine has exacerbated financial struggles in the U.S., and experts say the U.S. economy is headed for a recession. “It’s going to be hard to avoid some kind of recession,” declared Charlie Scharf, CEO of banking giant Wells Fargo.
At the Wall Street Journal Future of Everything Festival, Scharf predicted on May 17 that a potential downturn, while it may not be severe, will happen “no question.”
“The fact that everyone is so strong going into this should hopefully provide a cushion such that whatever recession there is if there is one, is short and not all that deep,” Scharf said.
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Biden had previously said he would not interfere in relations between Taiwan and China. In October 2021, he said he had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan, and they agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement,” even as tensions have ratcheted up between Taipei and Beijing.
“I’ve spoken with Xi about Taiwan. We agree … we’ll abide by the Taiwan agreement,” Biden said. “We made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement.”
Washington’s long-standing policy officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei. The Taiwan Relations Act clarifies that the U.S. decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing instead of Taiwan depends upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means, Reuters reported.
Photo: In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location. China on Oct. 22, said there is “no room” for compromise or concessions over the issue of Taiwan, following a comment by U.S. President Joe Biden that the U.S. is committed to defending the island if it is attacked. (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP, File)/Photo: President Joe Biden arrives at the White House, in Washington, from his Asian trip, May 24, 2022. Biden will speak to the nation to address the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, later in the evening. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)