But Mr Biden’s comment went beyond providing military assets for Taiwan to defend and was widely seen as implying direct US military involvement.
Mr Biden has overlooked the strategic ambiguity of his predecessors with regard to China and Taiwan. Last August, as he assured allies that “we will respond” if there is an attack on another NATO member, he added: “Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan.”
However, Taiwan has never received the same security guarantees from the United States as Japan, South Korea or America’s NATO partners, so the comment was considered important. Two months later, Mr. Biden was asked at CNN City Hall if the United States would defend Taiwan from attack. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” he said.
Mr Biden’s improvisation in Tokyo sparked a mixture of reactions in Washington, where some political leaders praised his outspoken support for an ally, while others mocked his indiscipline.
“President Biden’s statement that if there is a push, the United States will defend Taiwan against communist China was the right thing to say and the right thing to do,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican. wrote on Twitter.
On the other hand, Tommy Hicks Jr., co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump saw incompetence, not courage. “Another job to clean Biden’s room,” he wrote. “He can’t go abroad without saying something that his team has to return minutes later. That is reckless and shameful. “
Mr Trump, of course, was much more inclined than Mr Biden to make provocative, unconventional and unverified statements contrary to traditional American policy. At various times he threatened war with North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran; punished American allies such as Germany, Japan, Canada and South Korea; and defended opponents like Mr. Putin.