U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping clashed over the Taiwan issue during a two-and-a-half hour phone call on Friday. President Xi warned that those who play with fire will perish by it, saying that he opposes outside interference. President Biden reiterated that the U.S., "strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait." The two leaders also engaged in a fierce verbal battle over Russia, economic and human rights issues.
The two leaders' call took place at a time of heightened military tensions between the U.S. and China over a potential visit in August to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is ranked third in the U.S. ranks of power. China is continuing armed protests near Taiwan, saying, "We will definitely respond" if Pelosi insists on visiting. Fighter jets and unmanned bombers are gathered at an air base in Fujian Province. In response, the U.S. has dispatched a fleet of aircraft carriers to the vicinity of Taiwan waters. Even with increased likelihood of a clash, the two leaders ended up exchanging harsh rhetoric and warnings rather than talking over them.
Military conflict in the Taiwan Strait is a variable that can affect the operation of USFK. With the intention of increasing the flexibility of U.S. forces stationed abroad, the U.S. has been examining the possibility of moving U.S. Forces in Korea and Japan in case of emergencies in other regions. Taiwan issue is also concerning as the U.S.-China conflict could elevate instability on the Korean Peninsula. This has occurred amid heightened tension attributable to possible seventh nuclear tests to be conducted by North Korea. There are speculations that North Korea will use the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise as an excuse to counteract and launch high-intensity provocations. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also threatened the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, saying that it will be “annihilated.” However, the North Korean issue was never mentioned in the briefings and documents at the White House that conveyed the contents of the call between the U.S. and China leaders.
Movements outside the Korean Peninsula, including those of Taiwan, are no longer somebody else’s business. The military and diplomatic authorities need to monitor the U.S.-China actions more closely than ever before and ascertain possible responses in case of emergency. Additionally, military and diplomatic scenarios that reflect sensitive external factors should be considered as well. It is time to come up with the U.S. and China strategies that take into account the impact of the complex security structure in the Indo-Pacific region with and rigorous readiness measures in place against North Korea’s provocations.