In an interview that took place on Sunday with CBS 60 Minutes, just before Joe Biden participated in the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, he was asked if US servicemen would be used to protect Taiwan in the event that China launched an attack on the island, and he responded “yes” to that question.
It is not the first time that Biden has made statements as blunt as these on the possible involvement of the United States in a fight. In point of fact, this is the third occasion in the last 12 months. However, every time this has been brought up, the White House has responded by saying that their “policy has not changed” on the island.
However, at this point in time, it can scarcely be defined as an error that is worth overlooking, and it is no longer probable that Beijing would see it in that light. According to their point of view, the United States’ strategy of “strategic ambiguity” is coming to an end, and the country is heading inexorably toward the de facto backing of Taiwan’s independence as a means to control China.
After the United States normalised its relations with the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s and accepted the “One China Policy,” Congress moved quickly to impose the “Taiwan Relations Act” on the Presidency in order to legally enshrine the United States’ commitment to the island. This was done in order to ensure that the United States would continue to honour its obligations to Taiwan.
By stating that they would support “peaceful reunification” but in the process were obligated to give the island a “means to defend itself,” the United States government gave birth to a policy of strategic ambiguity, which is the lack of clarity regarding whether or not the United States would directly intervene in the event of a contingency.
Despite the fact that the United States has made occasional arms deliveries to the island, which has infuriated Beijing, conditions have, for the most part, stayed calm for decades, with the exception of one crisis that occurred in the 1990s. But things have changed so drastically that we no longer live in the same world. The United States is gradually abandoning its commitment to the “One China Policy” and to maintaining “strategic ambiguity.” At the same time, it is gradually expanding the unconditional assistance it provides to Taiwan with the goal of completely preventing reunification.
It is very evident that the United States’ actions have aimed to utterly destabilise the equilibrium between the 2 by putting Beijing in a corner, despite the fact that the United States continues to talk of preserving the “status quo.”
The highly provocative visit by Nancy Pelosi, the influx of scores of hawkish US congressmen who have flown in since then, talk of the United States pre-emptively placing sanctions on China over Taiwan regardless of whether or not it invades, and the advancement of the Taiwan Policy Act, which aims to give Taipei billions of dollars in military aid are all examples of recent events.
The United States was not put off by China’s firm rebuke of these provocations, which took the form of significant military drills, nor was it made to reconsider its actions in any way. Instead, the events that have taken place in Ukraine, in which the United States backs Kiev in its conflict with Russia, have only emboldened the United States to push forward even further with the Taiwan issue. This is due to the fact that the United States watches from the sidelines as other countries are destroyed while it sells its arms and uses media coverage to market itself. For instance, Taiwan is interested in purchasing HIMARS rockets from the United States in the year 2023.
As a consequence of this, the United States views the capability to intentionally create war while simultaneously accusing China of being the aggressor as increasing potential. It would seem that the only “strategic clarity” in the American approach is the policy of provocation, given that the United States has no interest in peace or compromise.
In this scenario, the United States is already well on its way to advocating the formal independence of Taiwan as a method of controlling China and will do so at any cost. There is a common consensus that the United States so-called “lip-service” to the “One China Policy” is empty, devoid of significance, and intentionally dishonest. The continual assertions made by Vice President Biden that the United States would protect the island simply help to erode what little faith may still exist.
As a consequence of this development, Taipei has been noticeably more aggressive in its attempts to irritate Beijing. This is because it believes the United States has its back. Since the arrival of Representative Pelosi, it has followed up by inviting a large number of US legislators and officials in the span of a single month, giving China yet another middle finger.
Because of this predicament, Beijing is virtually compelled to take action. What course of action will it choose in response to such provocations if the strategic environment becomes more constrained? How does it react to the United States, which is becoming more bellicose with each passing week?
China is well aware that beginning a conflict may have catastrophic effects, and that doing so would be to the United States’ advantage by enabling them to mould the global security picture in their favour.
However, conflicts often break out of need and desperation, and despite the fact that Beijing has attempted to demonstrate strategic patience over Taiwan, the window of opportunity for peaceful reunification is rapidly narrowing.
This indicates that a future war may be more imminent or probable than we now believe it to be. The United States of America is well aware of this fact and similar to its goals towards Ukraine, it has high expectations that it will be able to organise public sentiment against China, compel its friends to fulfil all of its requests, and earn a fortune as a direct result of this conflict.
No matter how many times Vice President Biden or the White House repeats, “we support the One China Policy,” strategic ambiguity is almost nonexistent at this point. The importance of actions cannot be overstated.