Biden vows to stand with Asia on freedom and criticizes China on Taiwan

President Joe Biden told Southeast Asian nations on Wednesday that the United States would stand up to defend ocean freedom and democracy, calling China’s crackdown on Taiwan “coercion” and a threat to peace and stability.

At a virtual East Asia summit attended by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Biden said Washington would start talks with partners in the Indo-Pacific about developing a regional economic framework, which critics say is lacking in its regional strategy.

Southeast Asia has become a strategic battlefield between the United States and China, which controls most of the South China Sea, and Beijing has put military and political pressure on the highly democratic Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing considers its own.

Biden reiterated that the United States has a “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan. “We are deeply concerned about China’s coercive measures …” said Biden, accusing her of “threatening peace and stability in the region.”

Download the. down NBC news app for breaking news and politics

Li Keqiang said at the summit, where the leaders of the Ten Nations Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met with regional partners, that maintaining peace, stability, freedom of navigation and overflights in the South China Sea is in everyone’s interest. “The South China Sea is our common home,” he said.

Biden said last week that the United States, bound by a 1979 law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, would provide Taiwan’s defense if it were attacked by China. These comments caused a stir because they appeared to depart from a longstanding US policy of “strategic ambiguity” as to how Washington would respond to such a scenario.

The White House said Biden was signaling no change in US policy towards Taiwan, and some analysts dismissed his comments as a slip.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have escalated in recent weeks as Beijing repeatedly launched air strikes across the Taiwan Strait, the waterway that separates the island from the mainland.

China expressed displeasure with Biden’s remarks last week and urged Washington “not to send the wrong signals to the Taiwanese independence forces to avoid seriously damaging Sino-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability.” .

Biden joined Southeast Asian leaders in reprimanding the junta in Myanmar, where a military coup in February ousted democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“In Myanmar we must address the tragedy caused by the military coup that is increasingly undermining regional stability,” he said, calling for the release of political prisoners and a return to democracy.

ASEAN began three days of summit without a Myanmar representative on Tuesday after its chief general was expelled for ignoring peace proposals.

Biden also said he would stand up for “human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet (and) for the rights of the people of Hong Kong.” China denies human rights abuses in its remote regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

Leave a Comment