Biden to Build New Taiwan-US Ties

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US to continue its support Taiwan against Chinese aggression under Joe Biden’s leadership…writes Wg. Cdr. Sahil Mishra

US President-Elect Joe Biden

The change of guard at the White House that has brought Joe Biden-led Democrat government is feared to be the less supportive of Taiwan. However, the strong US- Taiwan relationship are expected to remain unaffected thanks to anti-China sentiments in the US, besides Beijing’s imperialistic ambitions which have created tension in the Indo- pacific Region. Although Biden has been pro for normalising relationship with China, he has been the staunch supporter of the democratic nation of Taiwan. Biden is expected to continue with the long-running US policy of arms support to Taipei, bolstering Taiwanese defences against a possible invasion by the mainland China.  Biden was one of the crucial players behind the Taiwan Relations Act 1979, which allowed the US to maintain unofficial relations with Taipei while also formally recognizing the Beijing government.

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Over the years, Biden’s love for China and its supreme leader XI Jinping appears to have faded. In 2013, Jinping had called Biden, who was the US Vice President, an “old friend of China” for his help in the growth of China in the international politics. However, Biden chose to call a “thug” during the Democratic primaries earlier this year in the wake of presidential elections. Biden-led Democratic Party’s 2020 platform documentremoved all mentions to of a “One China” policy, which gave clear signs into the change into the policies of Biden towards Taiwan Strait crisis. Under the policy, the US acknowledged that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it. The document further warned Beijing of repercussions, saying “Democrats will be clear, strong, and consistent in pushing back where we have profound economic, security, and human rights concerns about the actions of China’s government.”

  • Share of Americans perceiving China related problems in 2018

Although Biden did not touch upon Taiwan during the election campaign, he has given no indication about backing down on the Trump’s policies. He is in favour of maintaining strategic ambiguity but is does not mean he is less supportive of Taiwan than Trump.  The more balanced approach would ensure the bloody fights are caused while it acts as a deterrence to Chinese ambitions, beating Beijing in its own game of ‘win without fighting’— greatly needed by Taiwan. Interestingly, Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate who had congratulated Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen when she re-elected in January this year. Biden had told Tsai “You are stronger because of your free and open society. The United States should continue strengthening our ties with Taiwan and other like-minded democracies.” It was enough for the world to see that Biden may speak soft but would act hard on Taiwan issue.

Tsai Ing-wen

Chinese tabloid Global Times, which is used by the Beijing government to present its views unofficially, has expressed concerns over the US unlikely to ease the pressure on China on key issues even after Biden becomes the president. “China should not harbour any illusions that Biden’s election will ease or bring a reversal to China-US relations, nor should it weaken its belief in improving bilateral ties. US competition with China and its guard against China will only intensify…Biden is highly likely to continue Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, but probably not with reckless gambling-style moves. Biden will maintain a tough attitude on China. On what the US defines as “human rights” issues such as the Xinjiang and Hong Kong affairs, the possibility cannot be excluded that a Democratic government would go even further,” the state-run tabloid said in its editorial.

  • Military forces comparison

In the backdrop of world media reporting that Biden would try to rebalance relationships with China and Taiwan, the elite American military forces continued to enter the island nation. The US marines will instruct Taiwanese forces in combat capabilities in assault boats and boat infiltration in the next four weeks, which sent message to Beijing and the world that Taiwan has the support of the US no matter who wins the election. Although Biden opposes both a unilateral declaration of independence by Taiwan and any military attack on the island nation by China, he supports boosting Taiwanese military through sale of arms and military equipment. His strategic ambiguity policy still keeps the US open for use of force in case of Chinese attack. And the chances of the US defending Taiwan proactively are higher since the anti-China sentiments are running high in the US.

Total value of US trade in goods with Taiwan

Biden government is expected to keep Taiwan-friendly bills introduced by Trumpadministration such as the Taiwan Travel Act and the National Defence Authorisation Act which facilitate exchanges of diplomats and military officials.Su Tzu-yun, a researcher at the Institute for National Defence and Security Research in Taipei, expressed confidence that USD 15 billion the arms deal with the US would not be affected during Biden’s period. “In the next four years – or even in the next 10 years – the People‘s Liberation Army does not have full confidence of a decisive victory in the event of a military offensive against Taiwan,” Su said. Besides, the Taiwan Relations Act makes it obligatory for the US to ensure Taiwan’s peaceful way of life is not upset by force.”

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