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Biden Administration’s Conflicting Stance on Taiwan

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Amid escalating tensions between the U.S., China and Taiwan, President Biden walks a perilous high-wire act. With each slight policy wobble, the potential for calamity looms.

Biden’s contradictory stances following Taiwan’s recent election highlight the president’s impossible mission – appeasing a communist superpower, securing a fledgling democracy, and maintaining his own precarious political standing.

This balancing act is growing ever more treacherous as critics question whether Biden’s family financial ties and political desperation are swaying America’s delicate Taiwan policy.

With nuclear brinkmanship, election machinations, and moral principles all colliding, can Biden successfully navigate the swirling diplomatic tempest and prevent the region from descending into chaos? The world watches with bated breath.

The recent Taiwan presidential election has highlighted the difficult balancing act the United States faces managing relations with Taiwan and China.

On January 14th, William Lai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won Taiwan’s election. The next day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Lai and reiterated U.S. commitment to cross-strait stability and peaceful resolution of differences without coercion. However, President Biden stated the same day that the U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence.

China reacted angrily to Blinken’s message, accusing the U.S. of violating its promise to only maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan. The conflicting statements reveal complex dynamics. The U.S. adheres to the “One China” policy, recognizing Beijing as China’s sole government while maintaining unofficial Taiwan relations. Yet the U.S. also has a long history of supporting Taiwan’s democracy and defending it from Chinese aggression. So while not endorsing formal independence, the U.S. opposes any forcible change of the island’s status by China.

This already precarious balancing act is further complicated by alleged financial ties between Biden’s family and Chinese entities. Revelations about the Biden family’s China business deals open Biden to accusations of improper Chinese influence, despite his tough stances on issues like Taiwan. Biden wants to signal restraint to China on Taiwan’s status while confronting Beijing on other matters. But questions surrounding his family’s financial dealings cast doubt on Biden’s ability to objectively handle this critical relationship.

In reiterating the U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence, Biden aims to reassure Beijing and reduce risks of confrontation over the island’s sensitive status. But conflicting statements and apparent conflicts of interest could undermine the U.S. position. Biden faces a delicate balancing act supporting Taiwan while avoiding outright commitment that could drag the U.S. into unwanted conflict with China.

Lai and the DPP favor eventual formal independence for Taiwan, which China vehemently opposes. Chinese leaders insist that Taiwan is a part of China and have not ruled out using military force to unify the island with the mainland. Beijing was angered when President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP refused to endorse the “One China” policy after being elected in 2016. China responded by increasing military drills and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan.

Now with Lai’s election, Beijing is wary that he will provoke further tensions. By congratulating Lai, Blinken’s message could be seen as validating the DPP’s pro-independence stance. China warned that Blinken had crossed a “red line” and violated U.S. commitments to only have unofficial engagement with Taiwan.

However, Biden reiterated after the election that the U.S. still adheres to the “One China” policy and does not support formal Taiwanese independence. This shows the Biden administration is still trying to balance support for Taiwan with maintaining stable working relations with Beijing.

The mixed signaling reveals disagreements within the U.S. government over how far to go in backing Taiwan. More hawkish officials like Blinken want to strongly support Taiwan’s democracy in the face of Chinese intimidation. But Biden and some other officials fear too aggressive a stance could provoke a crisis with nuclear-armed China.

Taiwan has become a growing flashpoint in U.S.-China relations. Many in Congress want to strengthen support for the island, passing legislation like the Taiwan Policy Act. But the White House is still prioritizing cooperation with Beijing on issues like climate change and North Korea.

Domestically, appearing too soft on China could open Biden up to attacks. But so could seem to edge towards abandoning strategic ambiguity, which remains the consensus policy position among foreign policy experts.

Biden faces a delicate balancing act domestically on Taiwan policy amid competing political pressures. While appearing too conciliatory toward China risks attacks, abandoning strategic ambiguity could split foreign policy consensus. These complex electoral incentives have led some to question whether personal financial interests are influencing Biden’s mixed signaling on Taiwan. Specifically, the lucrative business dealings between Biden’s son Hunter and Chinese entities, including state-linked firms, raise suspicions the family still benefits from Chinese money. Though motivated by political calculus, Biden muddying the waters on America’s Taiwan policy opens the administration up to deeper concerns about potential conflicts of interest and foreign influence. As revelations mount, Biden must realign messaging with democratic values and implement firewalls against any personal financial relationships that could undermine objectivity on this critical issue.

Biden’s mixed signaling on Taiwan has fueled suspicions that he is trying to protect the flow of Chinese money to his family members. Hunter Biden’s numerous business dealings with Chinese entities, including state-linked firms, have raised concerns about improper influence peddling.

The recent revelation that a company tied to the Chinese Communist Party funneled $40,000 directly to President Biden himself is especially troubling. Biden has repeatedly claimed his family has never profited off links to China. But mounting evidence indicates Biden was aware of, and benefited from, his son’s lucrative China business ventures while vice president.

Continued Chinese financial support could be influencing Biden’s softening stance on Taiwan. By reiterating opposition to Taiwan’s independence, Biden could be signaling a conciliatory posture toward Beijing in hopes of securing additional funding. With control of Congress lost, Biden may view maintaining the clandestine China money pipeline as critical for boosting his reelection chances in 2024.

However, such blatant personal profiteering from a geopolitical rival undermines U.S. interests and regional security. Biden cannot portray himself as a principled defender of democracy abroad while his family pockets secret payments from the Chinese Communist Party. These apparent conflicts of interest could compromise his ability to stand firm against Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

To reassure America’s Indo-Pacific allies, Biden must implement full transparency regarding his family’s foreign business deals. Continuing to benefit personally from CCP-linked largesse while in office could pose intelligence and extortion risks. Biden should fully sever any financial ties and take a strong public stand against Taiwan independence to remove doubts about Chinese influence over his policies.

While transparency and decoupling any Biden family financial ties with China are critical first steps, they alone may not be enough to dispel growing concerns. The political realities of Biden’s weakened domestic standing could still tempt him toward concessions to China regarding Taiwan. Even if past questionable business dealings are resolved, the desperate political incentives in play may lead Biden to see covert Chinese support as his best path to reelection in 2024. So the administration must not only implement ethics guardrails regarding foreign entanglements, but also fortify policy substance on issues like Taiwan. Biden should reinforce principled signaling and military support for Taiwan regardless of the potential political blowback at home. Governing effectively often requires leaders to take stances that sacrifice short-term political gain for the country’s long-term interests. The Taiwan issue will prove a key test of Biden’s ability to do just that.

With his domestic political standing diminished, Biden may see acquiescence to China on Taiwan as a gambit for gaining covert Chinese support to bolster his reelection chances in 2024.

Facing dismal approval ratings and the likelihood of a rematch against Trump, Biden could be using softer rhetoric on Taiwan independence to curry personal favor with Beijing. He may believe that by reiterating opposition to formal Taiwanese independence, despite his administration’s tough actions on China, he can persuade Beijing to clandestinely back him over Trump.

China has a record of employing political influence and intelligence operations to shape foreign elections. As an authoritarian regime, it prefers dealing with more pliable leaders. Given Trump’s confrontational stance toward China, Beijing likely prefers Biden’s relatively more conciliatory approach and may want to keep him in office.

Despite public tensions, if Biden sends private signals to Beijing that he will tread carefully on core issues like Taiwan, China could provide discreet propaganda and financial support for Biden’s reelection bid. This kind of backroom political bargain would deeply undermine U.S. interests.

However, Biden should know that any tacit agreement with Beijing would eventually come to light and be politically disastrous. Congress and the American public would harshly reject such an unholy alliance of self-interest. It would irrevocably confirm doubts about Biden’s ability to stand up to China in defense of U.S. values and security.

Instead, Biden must unequivocally renounce seeking Chinese assistance for keeping his job. He should implement transparency measures regarding any Biden family ties and use consistent principled messaging on Taiwan that avoids emboldening either Beijing or Taipei. Standing on moral conviction rather than cutting shady deals is Biden’s only path to a restoration of credibility.

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