US President Joe Biden (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a press conference in Tokyo on May 23, 2022 (AFP/SAUL LOEB)
US President Joe Biden, who is visiting Tokyo, intensified his warnings against Beijing on Monday, warning that the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion of the island which, he said, “flaunts the danger” by doubling down on military exercises. .
Beijing responded forcefully by invoking its “sovereignty,” and ruling that the United States was “playing with fire.”
After a visit to South Korea, Mr. Biden arrived in Japan on Sunday, and US officials have viewed these two countries as the mainstays of the US system in the face of China’s rising power in the region.
During a joint press conference Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Mr. Biden warned that the United States was prepared to use its military means if Beijing invaded the self-governing island of Taiwan.
“We agreed with the one-China policy, and we signed on to it (…) but the idea that (Taiwan) can be taken by force is simply inappropriate,” he added.
Beijing responded quickly with the US president’s call not to “underestimate” his firm determination to “protect his sovereignty.”
“We urge the United States (…) to avoid sending wrong signals to the independence forces” in Taiwan, said Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman.
The United States is “playing with fire,” Zhou Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, often described as the Chinese government, then responded. “They are using a map + of Taiwan + to contain China and they will burn themselves there,” she added.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Biden’s comments were consistent with US policy on Taiwan.
“As the president said, the one-China policy has not changed,” Austin said. “He also affirmed our commitment, in the Taiwan Relations Act, to enable Taiwan to defend itself.”
Show a united front against Beijing, m. Biden and Kishida also affirmed their “shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” and the Japanese prime minister indicated that Tokyo and Washington “will monitor the recent activities of the Chinese Navy, as well as moves related to joint exercises between the two countries, China and Russia.”
– US leadership –
The US president took aim at Russia, saying Moscow had to “pay a long-term price” for its “barbarism in Ukraine” through sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.
“It’s not just about Ukraine,” Biden said. Because if “sanctions are not maintained (…) what signal does that send to China about the cost of trying to seize Taiwan by force?”
Also in Tokyo on Tuesday, Biden will seek to bolster US leadership in the Asia-Pacific region by joining leaders from Australia, India and Japan at the summit of an informal alliance called the Quartet.
US President Joe Biden, during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in Tokyo on May 23, 2022 (AFP/SAUL LOEB)
Yet India has so far distinguished itself by refusing to publicly condemn Moscow for the war in Ukraine or to reduce its trade with Russia. Biden will hold a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The fear that unpredictable North Korea will launch another missile or conduct a nuclear test looms large at every stop on Biden’s tour. Nothing happened during his stay in Seoul.
– business partnership –
During his press conference with Mr. Kishida, Mr. Biden also unveiled a new economic partnership in the Asia-Pacific region initially involving 13 countries, excluding China.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is not a free trade agreement, but provides for greater integration among member countries in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chains, green energy, and anti-corruption.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a press conference with US President Joe Biden, in Tokyo on May 23, 2022 (POOL / Nicolas Datiche)
Beijing feels deliberately left out and has already announced, and on Sunday criticized “small groups” aimed at “containing China”.
Under Donald Trump, the United States in 2017 withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the broad multilateral free trade agreement that was the subject of a new treaty in 2018 without Washington.
Mr. Biden has made clear he has no intention of reviving major free trade agreements, but announced on Monday that he was considering lifting some of the tariff barriers weighing on China, stressing that they were not imposed by his administration.