US President Joe Biden has criticized Beijing over the Taiwan issue shortly before a visit to Washington by the Chinese foreign minister.
The directness of the accusations which the US leader hurls at China, while continuing to express confidence in a restoration of constructive dialog with Beijing, never ceases to amaze. Another pearl among Joe Biden’s recent high-profile statements can be found in the joint written statement issued on October 26, following the bilateral talks between himself and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese concluded the previous day in the US capital.
According to this document, Washington and Canberra are “concerned about China’s excessive maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law” and also about “unilateral actions that may raise tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.” Moreover, according to the statement the US and Australia reaffirm their “shared opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait and “resolve to work with partners to support regional maritime security and uphold international law.”
Significantly, the US leveled these charges of inflaming tensions over Taiwan at Beijing shortly before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in the United States for talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on the development of relations between the two countries.
However, there is no doubt who precisely is pouring oil on the confrontation across the Taiwan Strait and turning the region into a “powder keg.” Readers will remember that at the end of July this year, Joe Biden announced a decision to allocate up to $345 million in military aid to Taipei. Unlike previous aid packages, this was an outright grant, made using Presidential Drawdown Authority powers. These powers allow the president to dispense with the approval of Congress and other bureaucratic requirements, and send military hardware from the Pentagon’s own stockpiles directly to Taiwan. Back in August 2022, there was a serious escalation in the Taiwan issue after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the third most important official in the US government hierarchy, made a trip to the island.
As a result of such clumsy political maneuvers and contradictory signals, the Biden administration risks not only frustrating and alienating Beijing, damaging its relationship beyond repair, but also dramatically increasing the risk of an armed conflict across the Taiwan Strait, which could become a devastating catastrophe for the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Bakhtiar Urusov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.