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US President Biden says not ruling out using military force to defend Taiwan

US President Joe Biden (Photo: ANI)

US President Joe Biden has not ruled out the possibility of using American military force to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

In an interview published on Tuesday in Time magazine, Biden said he has made clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States will not seek independence for Taiwan as Washington had agreed with Beijing, Focus Taiwan reported.

“Not ruling out using US military force. There’s a distinction between deploying on the ground, air power and naval power,” he said in the exclusive interview to the magazine conducted at the White House on May 28.

If China tries to change the status quo unilaterally, “we’re continuing to supply capacity (to Taiwan),” Biden said. “We’ve been in consultation with our allies in the region” the US President said.

Asked if the US military would launch strikes from its bases in Japan or the Philippines, Biden said, “I can’t get into that. You would then criticize me with good reason if I were to tell you.”

The Time article cited US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns as saying that Xi instructed his country’s military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.

Tensions have been fraught between between the United States and China over Taiwan even as Biden and Xi have agreed to ease tensions.

Beijing sees Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, who was inaugurated on May 20, as a “separatist” and supporter of Taiwan’s independence.

Days after Lai Ching-te was sworn in, China launched two-day-long military drills on Thursday, surrounding Taiwan in what it called “punishment” for so-called “separatist acts,” CNN reported.

The reason for China’s drill is Lai’s inaugural speech, in which he called on Beijing to stop intimidating the island nation, over which China continues to make its claim.

The United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan and also supplies the island with arms to maintain sufficient self-defence capabilities.

Talking about the Chinese economy, Biden told Time magazine. “Where is it coming from? Where is it going to grow? You’ve got an economy that’s on the brink there. The idea that their economy is booming? Give me a break.”

Biden in the interview with the US magazine also termed China’s signature Belt and Road global infrastructure drive as a “nuisance graveyard initiative.”

The US president said that expanding cooperation with its European and Asian allies, as well as strengthening relations with developing countries, will be critical in maintaining US leadership in the international community.

A trilateral ministerial meeting held on June 2 in Singapore, attended by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, Japan’s Minister of Defense Kihara Minoru, and South Korea’s Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik. The three officials said there was no change in their nations’ position on Taiwan and that regional peace was “an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the international community.”

They also called for a peaceful resolution to cross-strait issues.

Austin on Friday met with his Chinese counterpart Dong Jun, in the first in-person talks between the two countries’ defence chiefs since November 2022. In the meeting held on the sidelines of the Shangi-La dialogue, expressing concern about China’s “provocative” military activities near Taiwan.

Meanwhile, The United States House Appropriations Committee on Monday introduced a bill to provide USD500 million in foreign military financing for Taiwan to strengthen deterrence across the Taiwan Strait.

The Fiscal Year 2025 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Bill also sought to offer Taiwan up to US$2 billion in loans and loan guarantees for the same purpose, according to the committee as reported in Focus Taiwan