U.S. President Joe Biden talks to reporters while boarding Air Force One on travel to Eastern Kentucky to visit families affected by devastation from recent flooding, as he departs from Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Delaware, U.S., August 8, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Monday that he is “not worried” about China’s military exercises around Taiwan, adding that while he is “concerned that they’re moving as much as they are,” he does not think they’re going to continue to increase the pressure.
The remarks came one day after Beijing concluded 72 hours of intense maneuvers and missile tests over and around Taiwan. The exercises involved dozens of Chinese fighter jets and warships to mimic a military blockade of the self-governing island that Beijing considers a province.
Biden’s relative calm reflected the deliberate American strategy of not responding to Chinese bellicosity with equally hot saber rattling.
It also reflects a broader opinion within the Biden administration that Beijing does not intend to make good on its implicit threat to invade Taiwan, at least not in the near term.
Given this assessment, the United States has adopted an approach, for now, of heightened vigilance, but steadfast refusal to be drawn into a military game of chicken in the Pacific.
Last Thursday, the White House announced that Biden would keep U.S. naval aircraft carrier strike group in the South China Sea longer than originally planned, in response to Beijing’s increased aggression toward Taiwan.
At the same time, a Biden spokesman said the United States would postpone a previously scheduled intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, test.
The decisions signaled Washington’s desire to maintain American military alertness in the region, while also denying Beijing the opportunity to point to the long-planned U.S. missile test as evidence that America was responding to China’s own missile launches near Taiwan with military preparations of its own.
Beijing claimed its military exercises were conducted in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.
The visit by the California Democrat, which the Biden White House publicly defended but privately opposed, marked the first time in 25 years that an American House speaker, a position second-in-line to the presidency, had visited Taiwan.
Asked on Monday whether it was wise for Pelosi to have traveled to Taiwan given the tense U.S.-China relationship, Biden gave the standard response his administration has used for weeks.
“That was her decision,” he said, before boarding Air Force One en route to Kentucky, where Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit communities impacted by catastrophic flooding last week.