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Biden pledges to defend Taiwan against attack, drawing Beijing’s ire

Biden pledges to defend Taiwan against attack, drawing Beijing’s ire

dpa
Tokyo
US President Joe Biden pledged on Monday that his country would defend Taiwan militarily if necessary, while also announcing steps to counter China’s economic might, at talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Biden was visiting Tokyo as part of his first trip to Asia since taking office.
Asked at a joint press conference whether the United States would defend Taiwan militarily in the case of an attack, Biden replied: “Yes.” “That’s a commitment we made,” he added, arguing that a forcible takeover of Taiwan would “dislocate the entire region,” and was comparable to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the self-ruled democracy part of its territory. Tensions have flared in recent months, in part due to increasing incursions by Chinese fighter jets into Taiwan’s airspace.
Observers have speculated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could embolden China to seize the island and depose its government.
China is “flirting with danger,” Biden warned on Monday, while adding that he did not expect Beijing to attempt an attack on Taiwan.
Taipei welcomed Biden’s reaffirmation of “the US rock-solid commitment to Taiwan,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Biden’s comments drew ire from Beijing, however.
China has “no room for compromise or concession” on core interests of sovereignty and territorial integrity, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said according to state broadcaster CCTV.
“No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and powerful capabilities of the Chinese people,” Wang Yi added. 
Late last year, Biden declared that the US had a commitment to defend Taiwan if it was attacked. To date, Washington has pledged to ensure Taiwan can defend itself, although this has predominantly entailed weapons deliveries.
During Biden’s visit to Tokyo, he also launched a new regional initiative aimed in part at providing a counterbalance to China’s growing economic might.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which includes Japan, Australia, India and nine other states, is not a free trade agreement and no tariff reductions are planned. Nonetheless, Biden expressed confidence that it would bring concrete benefits.
The aim was to “create an economic order that will ensure sustainable growth, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region for the years to come,” Kishida said.
Goals include closer cooperation on greater supply chain security, digital trading standards, clean energy and the fight on corruption.
Details remain unclear, however. Many doubt whether the IPEF could be a plausible alternative to large regional free trade deals that the US has exited - while China wants to join.
In January, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership came into force, forming the world’s largest trade bloc with Japan, South Korea and China. It sits alongside the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump withdrew from.
During their talks in Tokyo, Biden and Kishida “committed to work closely together to address security challenges” the White House said in a statement.
This included North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and China’s “increasingly coercive behaviour that runs counter to international law,” the statement said.
Japan is planning to increase its defence expenditure given the growing tensions in the region, Kishida said.
Tokyo prepared for Biden’s visit by mobilizing an unprecedented 18,000 police officers. The president started his Asia tour in South Korea, another important US ally.
On Tuesday, Biden is set to take part in a Quad meeting with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India.
Meanwhile, Kishida announced that the next G7 summit will take place in Hiroshima. His home city, which was destroyed by a US nuclear bomb in 1945, was ideal to send a message of peace, he said. Kishida’s family also suffered the consequences of the first nuclear bomb.

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