EXCLUSIVE-Biden sends former top defense officials to Taiwan in show of support


US President Joe Biden will send a delegation of former top defense and security officials to Taiwan on Monday, a senior administration official said, in a show of support for the island claimed by China after the Russian invasion. from Ukraine.

The visit, led by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, comes at a time when Taiwan has stepped up its alert level, wary that China is taking advantage of a distracted West to act against him. Beijing claims the democratically governed island as its own and has pledged to bring it under Chinese control, by force if necessary.

Mullen, a retired Navy admiral who served as the highest ranking officer in the US military under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, will be joined by Meghan O’Sullivan, former deputy national security adviser under Bush, and Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense under Obama, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Two former senior directors of the National Security Council for Asia, Mike Green and Evan Medeiros, will also make the trip, which aims to “demonstrate our strong and continued support for Taiwan“, the official told Reuters.

The delegation is expected to arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday afternoon and stay until Wednesday evening, when they plan to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng and other senior officials. . The official declined to say whether the timing of the visit was influenced by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Taiwan said last week that former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who served under former President Donald Trump, would visit March 2-5 and meet with Tsai. The Biden administration declined to comment on Pompeo’s visit, calling him a private citizen.

Referring to the delegation led by Mullen, the senior administration official said, “The selection of these five individuals sends an important signal about the United States’ bipartisan commitment to Taiwan and its democracy, and demonstrates that the The Biden administration’s broader commitment to Taiwan remains rock-solid.” The official added that Washington would view “any effort to determine Taiwan’s future by means other than peaceful means as a threat to peace and security. of the Western Pacific”.

“The United States will maintain its ability to resist any use of force or other forms of coercion that jeopardizes the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan,” the official said. Mullen’s delegation marks the first public visit by a group of former officials to Taiwan at Biden’s request since April 2021, when former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and former Under Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg traveled there and met Tsai, whom Beijing accuses of seeking independence.

The latest voyage comes days after a US warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the waterway between China and Taiwan. The US military described his passing as routine, but Beijing said he was “provocative”. The White House on Sunday called on China to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But Beijing largely avoided criticizing Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced an enhanced strategic partnership aimed at countering US influence just weeks before the invasion. Under longstanding US policy, Washington has only unofficial relations with Taipei and diplomatically recognizes Beijing. However, US law requires him to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, and the Biden administration has pledged to continue Trump and Pompeo’s policy of stepping up engagement with the island.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has given further impetus to a growing debate over the long-standing controversial US policy of “strategic ambiguity”, under which Washington refuses to explicitly say whether it will militarily defend Taiwan in case of Chinese attack. Some U.S. lawmakers, including the Democratic chairman of the influential House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, have called for greater clarity on the U.S. “obligation” to defend Taiwan amid heightened Chinese military pressure, but supporters of the existing policy say this could increase the risk of conflict. .

China’s ambassador to Washington said in January that the two superpowers could end up in a military conflict if Washington encouraged Taiwan independence.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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