“He is just too old and likes to bluff, doesn’t know what he is talking about,” tweeted China Daily’s Chen Weihua on Friday, referring to President Joe Biden.
On Thursday, Biden told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he would defend Taiwan. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” the President said, responding to a question about what the U.S. would do if China attacked the island republic.
Chen’s dismissive comment confirms that America’s deterrence of China is eroding fast.
“Biden has been anything but clear,” ABC News wrote about the President’s intentions toward Taiwan. On the contrary, he has been crystal clear, on a number of occasions.
Biden’s comment to Cooper was not a one-off. In August, he told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that the U.S. would defend NATO partners, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
If there is anything unclear, it is the situation after the clarifications from Biden administration officials: Press Secretary Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. All of them walked back Biden’s statement to CNN.
“Well, there has been no shift,” Psaki told reporters on Friday. “The President was not announcing any change in our policy nor has he made a decision to change our policy. There is no change in our policy.”
In fact, there was a change. Biden’s definitive statement was a stark departure from America’s decades-old policy of “strategic ambiguity,” the policy of telling neither Beijing nor Taipei what the U.S. would do in the case of imminent conflict.
There are now two causes for concern. First, Biden, as Commander-in-Chief, makes foreign policy. The Constitution does not give that power to Psaki, Price, or Austin. Beijing may wonder—as should Americans and others—if Biden is still in charge.
Second, the instant clarifications undermine deterrence. Biden’s statement was clear and unambiguous, a warning to Beijing. The clarifications, on the other hand, tell China the United States is not committing itself to defend Taiwan.
The walk-back statements could lead Beijing to believe there are disagreements inside the Biden administration and in a crisis, some officials would try to override the President to block an American defense of Taiwan.
In short, Chen Weihua’s insulting comments look close to the mark.
Deterrence has just had a bad day. And so has the U.S. Constitution.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. Follow him on Twitter @GordonGChang.
October 23, 2021 at 7:16 am
it is the situation after the clarifications from Biden administration officials: Press Secretary Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. All of them walked back Biden’s statement to CNN.
October 23, 2021 at 10:20 am
Hahaha Gordon Chang…is he still waiting for China to collapse? Broken clocks are right more often…he’s going to end up like Gerald Segal
October 23, 2021 at 11:42 am
So the gist of the discussion is that there still is ambiguity of what the US position actually is? Exactly…
October 23, 2021 at 12:10 pm
In his search for a policy Senile Joe Biden is wholly owned by China and will abandon Taiwan in a major cognitive failure of dithering when decisive action is demanded.
Senile Joe Biden will nake Taiwam the Czechoslovakia of 2021/22 with the same results for his “Peace” as Neville Chamberlin had with Adolph Hitler. Incredibly stupid Joe. America is doomed with this Puppet in the White House.
October 23, 2021 at 12:36 pm
The point of the policy is, the Mainland should fear “what if the US intervenes” and Taiwan should fear “what if the US does not intervene.” That is supposed to maintain the status quo. It’s an awkward policy, and that’s why it’s awkward trying to explain it. And Biden is President of the US. He can’t be bothered by a China Daily reporter trying to insult him.
October 24, 2021 at 5:17 am
Gordon is the author of “The Coming of Collapse in China”, which promised in 2001 the CCP had ten years left, tops. The last thing a country like China, with no foreign military bases, wants to do is invade Taiwan. They want to absorb it economically, then politically. Only America’s bluster, with lamentable MIC-empowering, laughably wrong jackasses like Chang, safe in his ivory tower, makes China prepare a military option for the all important “saving face”. Ask yourself why Taiwan sees Chinese invasion as far less of a threat than the U.S. does.
October 24, 2021 at 7:40 am
Total disaster Gordon?
The actual text of the Taiwan Relations Act.
Section 2 b). 6:
“It is the policy of the United States…to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.”
October 24, 2021 at 8:35 am
In the immortals words of a Hong Kong protester:
“Don’t trust China. China is asshole.”
October 24, 2021 at 3:41 pm
So our policy of “Strategic Ambiguity” is. . . ambiguous?
Right. That’s clear.
October 24, 2021 at 4:45 pm
“Beijing may wonder—as should Americans and others—if Biden is still in charge.” That would be NO, for anyone but Biden, who thinks he IS.
October 24, 2021 at 8:35 pm
The situation is far worse than described. Alzheimer Joe is not in charge. He’s nearly brain dead & China, Russia, Iran, N Korea & everyone w a brain knows it.
Worse again, the folks in actual charge are beyond INCOMPETENT. All you have to do is look at Afghanistan, our border, COVID policy. You can bet Xi & Putin know better than the American people how sick Biden is & that our political & military leaders are worthless incompetents.
It’s doubtful that pack of idiots could muster a successful defense of Hawaii or Alaska let alone Taiwan. America is failing fast & what’s left of brain dead Biden & the moron Democrats running our Government is squabbling about how many trillions in funny money to print to pay all the corrupt special interests off before they destroy the dollar & really throw the country into free fall. Anybody that thinks differently is as brain dead as Biden or lying.
It’s very hard to believe that China & Russia aren’t moving fast to take advantage. If I were them seeing what Democrats are doing to destroy the USA faster than anything they could do I would be moving to take advantage.
October 24, 2021 at 8:43 pm
Biden’s Taiwan policy was a complete disaster the day the incompetent fool took office.
October 24, 2021 at 10:05 pm
This essay nailed my instant reaction .. the bureacracy undermined the President. Unbelievable.