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To deter China on Taiwan, Biden needs to reassure

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Last week, in an unscripted moment, President Joe Biden warned bluntly that if China invades Taiwan, the United States will come to the island's defense.

"We've made a commitment," Biden told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo.

Including military action?

"Yes," he replied.

That isn't what U.S. policy on Taiwan says — not officially, at least.

The White House and State Department hurriedly tried to walk back the president's words.

"Our policy has not changed," they insisted.

Biden critics called it a gaffe, but the statement wasn't a slip of the tongue. Biden has used the same language about Taiwan three times in nine months. When a president offers his personal version of policy three times in a row, that pretty much makes it official — even if it wasn't issued in a formal communique.

What Biden did was to say openly what has been implicit for several years: The United States is willing to threaten force to deter China from invading Taiwan.

Until now, those hints were couched in a policy known as "strategic ambiguity." The president made it less ambiguous.

China hawks hailed the rhetorical shift as a welcome burst of clarity. Others worried that it might provoke China toward reckless action.

The Chinese........

© Olean Times Herald

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