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Biden vows to militarily defend Taiwan if attacked by China
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TOKYO — President Biden opened the second chapter of his Asia tour on Monday with several moves — some choreographed, some apparently not — signaling a more confrontational approach to China’s economy and national security as his administration seeks to curb the influence of the most populous nation in the world.

At a Monday press conference, Biden said the United States would militarily defend Taiwan if attacked by China, despite America’s policy of “strategic ambiguity.” Later, his administration announced the outline of a new trade agreement intended to strengthen US economic ties with other Indo-Pacific countries.

Later this week, Biden will participate in a meeting of the Quad, the partnership made up of the United States, India, Japan and Australia that aims in part to counter China’s power on a global scale.

Biden’s charm offensive aims to strengthen ties with South Korea and the Indo-Pacific

In Taiwan, a White House official backtracked almost immediately, saying Biden had simply reaffirmed a commitment made through a 1979 law that calls on the United States to provide Taiwan with the military means to self-defense. The United States maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity toward the island, which means it deliberately does not know what it would do in the defense of Taiwan.

But taken together, it underscored the Biden administration’s aggressive strategy to blunt China’s growing influence – as the president drew parallels between a potential escalating conflict between China and Taiwan and the existing conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia has to pay a long-term price for this in terms of the sanctions that have been imposed,” Biden said during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at Akasaka Palace. “If in fact there is a rapprochement between … the Ukrainians and Russia, and these sanctions are not being maintained in many ways, then what signal does that send to China about the cost of trying – to the attempt – to take Taiwan by force?”

Although the president said he did not expect such an invasion, Biden said China was “already flirting with danger” and said that despite the United States’ “one China” policy , “It does not mean that China has the … jurisdiction to go and use force to take control of Taiwan.

Julia Mio Inuma in Tokyo and Michael E. Miller in Sydney contributed to this report.

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