The Biden administration is currently reviewing many US policies, including those geared towards China. One policy concerns growing calls for Biden to change the “strategic ambiguity” the US maintains concerning Taiwan and a possible Chinese invasion.
The strategic ambiguity means it’s not clear if the US would intervene if China moves to take Taiwan. But since 1979, when the US severed diplomatic ties with Taipei, the US has provided the island with weapons. In 2020 alone, the US announced over $5 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.
China hawks in Congress want Biden to change the Taiwan policy to a “strategic clarity” and commit to going to war for the island. Even though the new administration is taking a hawkish approach to China, Biden officials seem hesitant to change the Taiwan policy.
Kurt Campbell, the policy coordinator for the Indo-Pacific on the National Security Council, said on Tuesday that the US has an interest in keeping the ambiguity. “I believe that there are some significant downsides to the kind of what is called strategic clarity,” he said.
Last week, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said changing the policy would send the wrong signal to China. “From our perspective, if we were to see a US shift from strategic ambiguity, as you’ve identified it, to clarity over a willingness to intervene in a Taiwan contingency, the Chinese would find this deeply destabilizing,” she said.
While President Biden might not commit to going to war for Taiwan, his administration is taking steps to boost diplomatic ties with the island. In April, the State Department announced a new policy to “encourage” more contacts between US and Taiwanese officials.
US military officials have been hyping the threat of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan to justify more military spending for the region. Much has been made out of Chinese military flights through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, although these flights are usually far from the island of Taiwan and have a direct correlation with the increase in US activity in the region.