Joe Biden warns Beijing over expansionism

A week into the job, U.S. President Joe Biden has sent a clear warning to Beijing against any expansionist intentions in East and Southeast Asia.

In multiple calls and statements, he and his top security officials have underscored support for allies Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, signalling Washington’s rejection of China’s disputed territorial claims in those areas.

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that his administration is committed to defending Japan, including the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed both by Japan and China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

Tough stance

That stance was echoed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who told Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Saturday that the contested islands were covered by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. He affirmed that the U.S. “remains opposed to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea”, according to a Pentagon statement.

Meanwhile, three days into the Biden administration, State Department spokesman Ned Price warned China about menacing Taiwan after it repeatedly sent more than a dozen military fighters and bombers through the island’s air defence zone.

“We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity security and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with Democratic Taiwan,” Mr. Price said in a statement.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid.”

Stand with Philippines

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that a mutual defence treaty obliging the U.S. to defend the Philippines against attack in the Pacific also applied to the disputed South China Sea — something the Obama administration did not specify.

Those comments and others sought to emphasise that the new Biden administration will not deviate from the firm security stance towards China that it inherited from former President Donald Trump.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 5:23:32 AM |

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