Days after US president Joe Biden pledged that he would not hesitate to send US troops to fight China in a potential war over Taiwan, US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan strait in a deliberate provocation against Beijing.
On Tuesday, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation less than 100 miles from the Chinese mainland.
The move came just over three weeks after the last such “freedom of navigation” operation, in which the guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville sailed through the Taiwan Strait on August 28.
In the aftermath of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last month, the US has massively escalated its conflict with China over Taiwan.
The latest escalation of tensions came over the weekend, when the US President said in an interview with the program “60 minutes” that he would send US forces into combat against China in a war over Taiwan.
Asked by interviewer Scott Pelley, “would U.S. Forces defend the island,” Biden replied, “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”
Pelley asked Biden again, “So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, U.S. Forces, U.S. men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”
Biden replied, “Yes.”
Although Biden had repeatedly made similar statements in the past, this assertion was the most categorical to date that the US would indeed send troops into combat against Beijing.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning stated that China had lodged a formal complaint with US officials, adding that “China deplores and firmly opposes the remarks made by the US president and has made stern representations with the US.”
While the White House sought to distance itself from Biden’s remarks, they were met with howls of approval by dominant sections of the US political establishment and media.
“I’m glad the president has once again taken a clear position on Taiwan’s defense. … I hope this is the end of flip flopping on U.S. security interests for Taiwan,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Washington Post met Biden’s statements with an editorial titled, “Biden’s 60 Minutes statement deterring China on Taiwan was useful.”
The Post approvingly wrote, “And with that, one more strand of the 50-year-old U.S. approach known as ‘strategic ambiguity’ toward the Taiwan Strait unraveled…”
It continued, “Whether speaking off the cuff, as he so often does, or with the deliberate intent to keep Chinese President Xi Jinping guessing, there might be value in Mr. Biden’s declarations of intent. They usefully ratchet up U.S. words in response to Chinese deeds.”
According to the newspaper, “Mr. Biden said what a lot of people, including many on both sides of the partisan aisle in Congress, are thinking: Dictatorships need to be deterred, as Russia’s attempt to conquer Ukraine vividly demonstrates.”
Biden’s statement and the accompanying war hysteria gripping the US media shows that the debacle suffered by Russia in northeastern Ukraine has only encouraged the United States to take even more reckless and desperate actions, targeting not only Russia, but China as well.
Critically, the Post uses Biden’s remarks as a springboard to endorse the “Taiwan Policy Act,” a bill that pledges $6.5 billion in US arms to Taiwan and would effectively render the One China Policy a dead letter. The bill removes restrictions that US weapons must be used for “defensive” purposes, and asserts that “Taiwan shall be treated as though it were designated a major non-NATO ally.”
The bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations committee last Wednesday, and enjoys support within both US political parties.
The Post writes, “Mr. Biden’s improvisations, albeit repeated, are no substitute for a formal update to U.S. policy. That is what the Taiwan Policy Act, newly passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a vote of 17-5, proposes.”
The Post continues, “legislation reaffirming and modernizing the U.S. commitment to Taiwan should pass; Congress should provide Mr. Biden and his successors with a stronger set of legislative instructions that would enhance not only the clarity of what they say but also the authority with which they say it.”
Commenting on Biden’s statement, Politico wrote that “Biden leaves no doubt: ‘Strategic ambiguity’ toward Taiwan is dead.”
The article quoted Daniel Russel, former assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, as saying “No previous president has chosen to prejudge the decision that he will take in the event of a hypothetical Chinese military action.”
The reckless efforts by the United States to provoke a military conflict with China must be taken as a serious warning. Beset by a mounting domestic social, economic, and political crisis, the US ruling elite sees war as a solution.