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Biden vows to defend Taipei, China warns not to ‘underestimate resolve’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (not pictured) after their bilateral meeting at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, May 23, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

US President Joe Biden says he would be willing to use force to militarily defend Chinese Taipei if Beijing invades the self-ruled island.

Biden, who is in Tokyo to meet regional allies, made the remarks at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday.

The US president said China was "flirting with danger right now by flying so close" to Chinese Taipei, promising to defend the island from any military action by its giant neighbor.

“We agree with a one-China policy. We've signed on to it and all the intended agreements were made from there. But the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not, is just not appropriate,” he said.

In response to Biden’s threats, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Beijing was ready to defend its national interests over Taiwan.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory,” Wang said, adding, “The Taiwan issue is a purely internal affair for China.”

He warned that “China has no room for compromise or concession,” when it comes to its “core interests of the sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Wang went on to say that China would always defend its interests using the force of its 1.4 billion population.

“No one should underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will, and strong ability of the Chinese people in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.

Japan beefs up defense capabilities

Meanwhile, a White House statement said Biden has endorsed Japan’s plan to beef up its defense capabilities, with the two countries committing to work closely to counter what they call China’s “increasingly coercive behavior that runs counter to international law.”

Japan’s Kishida also emphasized his country’s readiness to take on a more robust defense posture, something the US has long welcomed.

According to Kishida, Japan is set to consider various options to boost its military capabilities, including a “considerable increase” in its defense budget, which signaled a potential shift in Japan’s defense policy.

On his first trip to Asia since taking office last year, Biden also supported Japan becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The centerpiece of Biden’s visit, which includes meetings with the leaders of Japan, India, and Australia, in the “Quad” group, will be the launch of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a broad plan providing an economic pillar for US engagement with Asia.

“It shows that the United States will strengthen its involvement in the Indo-Pacific region no matter what the circumstances,” Kishida said ahead of their bilateral meeting.

US considers reducing tariffs on China

Apart from defense and military talks, Biden also said about pondering tariff cuts on Chinese goods while increasing calls on OPEC to raise oil production as Washington is grappled with a politically damaging wave of inflation.

"I am considering it. We did not impose any of those tariffs. They were imposed by the last administration and they're under consideration," Biden said on reducing tariffs on China.

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