Biden says (again) US troops would defend Taiwan if China invades

President Joe Biden appears to have unilaterally changed US policy toward Taiwan over the past 43 years by making it very clear that he would send American troops to defend the island nation from a Chinese invasion.

During a recent interview With CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Biden left no doubt after Scott Pelley asked him if U.S. forces would defend Taiwan.

“Yes; if, in fact, there was an unprecedented attack,” Biden replied.

It should be noted that “60 Minutes” did not show Biden’s full answer. As the president was still speaking, Pelley cut himself off from Biden to say that a White House official claimed after the interview that the US government’s policy towards Taiwan had not changed.

But Pelley then asked Biden point-blank: “So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, American forces – American men and women – would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”

Biden answered in one word: “Yes.”

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A senior military official declined to comment on Monday when Task & Purpose asked about Biden’s comments regarding Taiwan.

A White House spokesperson told Task & Purpose that Biden made it clear to Japan earlier this year that the US policy of the “strategic ambiguity” towards Taiwan remains in effect. However, this is at least the fourth time that Biden has publicly committed the United States to Taiwan’s defense. He made similar comments in August 2021, October 2021, and May 2022.

Each time the President has promised that the United States will defend Taiwan, White House officials have asserted that the President has not announced any change in the United States government’s policy toward Taiwan, which is set out in The Law on Relations with Taiwan, which was passed by Congress and signed by then-President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

A soldier holds a national flag of Taiwan during a military exercise in Hsinchu County, northern Taiwan, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Chiang Ying-ying/Associated Press)

The Taiwan Relations Act does not oblige the United States to militarily defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion. Instead, he is intentionally vague on the matter, saying that “diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China are based on the expectation that Taiwan’s future will be determined by peaceful means and that any effort to determine the “Taiwan’s future by means other than peaceful means, including through boycotts or embargoes, is considered a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific region and a grave concern to the United States.”

Additionally, the Taiwan Relations Act requires the president to work with Congress to “determine appropriate action in response to such danger.”

However, Biden has used his authority under Article II of the Constitution to defend US troops as legal justification for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Congress also abdicated most of its powers to wage war when it passed authorizations for the use of military force against Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in 2001 and 2002, both of which remain in effect for 20 more years. late.

Democrats also took control of the House and Senate in 2006, but they did not force then-President George HW Bush to end the war in Iraq., showing that lawmakers are reluctant to limit funding for wars while American troops are in danger.

China War
Members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) review the party membership oath in front of the party flag on April 13, 2021 in Luoyang, China’s Henan Province. (Photo by Jia Fangwen/VCG via Getty Images)

That said, a war against China would be far bigger than any conflict the United States has fought since the end of World War II. China already has a sizable nuclear arsenal which it plans to increase to around 700 warheads by 2027 and up to 1,000 warheads by 2030, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Defense on China’s military might.

China also has a formidable inventory of conventional missiles, including 300 DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can strike targets up to 2,500 miles away, the report said. These missiles are capable of hitting Guam as well as Navy ships.

China’s navy is also the largest in the world. It currently has a total of 355 ships and submarines and is expected to increase its fleet to 460 ships by 2030 – while the US Navy plans to grow from 298 to 270 ships by fiscal year 2027 as part of its current budget proposal.

Suffice it to say, a war with China over Taiwan would be costly for the United States, but defense officials failed to tell the American public how many of its sons and daughters were likely to die. they were called upon to fight against China.

Marine Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl dodged the question when asked in February by Task & Purpose how many casualties the United States would suffer if it went to war with China.

“We won’t do an Iwo Jima again, that’s right – that needs to be clear,” Heckl replied, referring to the historic World War II battle in which nearly 7,000 Marines were killed and 20,000 others were wounded in the Corps’ bloodiest battle. ‘ the story.

Defense strategy expert Stacie Pettyjohn led several wargames for the Department of Defense involving a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Although these games do not track the number of soldiers who would be killed in such a conflict, the team playing the United States loses a lot of surface ships, bombers and aerial tankers, she told Task Force Monday. & Purpose.

“There are significant losses in terms of the number of ships and aircraft that are usually lost, and when there are missile attacks on large air or naval bases or headquarters, there would probably be a number significant number of victims associated with these as well,” said Pettyjohn, director of the advocacy program at the Center for a New American Studies think tank in Washington, D.C.

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