Are China's Threats to Taiwan a Bluff?

Monday, four dozen Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone, climaxing a weekend of provocations that saw nearly 150 sorties of China-based fighters and bombers.

The U.S. State Department countered by issuing a stern statement warning Beijing about the adverse effect on regional “stability” of such “provocative military activity.”

Yet even as the waves of Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense zone, President Joe Biden was reassuring Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that the U.S. would defend the Senkakus from any Chinese attack.

Controlled by Japan but claimed by China, the Senkakus are uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea.

Our alliances in the Pacific dating to the 1950s have put us in an odd position. The Biden administration says it will fight to defend the Senkakus and fight if the Philippines attempt a military retrieval of atolls and reefs in the South China Sea that China has seized, occupied and fortified.

For Taiwan, however, a democratic island of 14,000 square miles and 23 million people, and for Hong Kong, a formerly free city of 7 million, we will not commit to fight — though human rights and democracy are said to be central to the Biden foreign policy.

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