Wednesday, February 28

The UN General Assembly starts with Ukraine, Taiwan and the energy crisis as a backdrop


The most important diplomatic event in the world will open this Tuesday with tensions between the US and China on account of the statements by Joe Biden, who affirms that he would defend Taiwan with American soldiers if Beijing decides to invade the island.

Antnio Guterres at the UN General Assembly.SETH WENIGAP
  • Asia Taiwan’s “silicon shield” against China, why is Taiwan interested in the West?
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For the first time since 2019, New York has a United Nations General Assembly more or less normal. That’s right: the new normal is less pleasant than the old normal. Downtown is a lot dirtier, has a lot more homeless, and a lot more crime than it was three years ago, and, just two weeks ago, a video of a carjacking in which the assailants rammed their victim’s vehicle went viral. The video was even more surprising because the savage assault took place on the Upper East Side, the most ‘posh’ area of ​​the city, where the cream of New York society lives, including the Spanish ambassador to the UN, whose headquarters will be visited tomorrow by the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez.

The Assembly starts, in part, under the shadow of the ukrainian warthe energy crisis aggravated by this, which threatens to liquidate the promises to combat climate change from previous editions, and with the New Cold War between the US and China. In recent weeks, Russia has lost support among emerging countries, as the theater of operations has oscillated between violation of human rights in the treatment of civilians and target selection andutter ridicule on the battlefield.

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This gives Western democracies some room for manoeuvre, although the war continues and its outcome remains uncertain. More problematic are its consequences in the economic field, with a inflation explosion that is hitting harder, precisely, the emerging countries whose support Vladimir Putin he wanted to obtain for his invasion. The other great victim of the Russian attack on Ukraine is going to be energy policy, especially in Europe, which is going to make the transition to renewables more difficult, at least in the short term.

Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis

The meeting also comes after the interview with the president of the United States, Joe Biden, to the CBS television network, broadcast on Sunday. In it, the US president declared that “the pandemic is over”, referring to Covid-19, although admitting that “we have a problem” with the virus and that “we are still working hard” on that problem. The UN, however, maintains its entry ban on the unvaccinated, which, presumably, will not apply, for the second year in a row, with the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who already spoke last year without being vaccinated (the UN let enter to the head of state and of the Brazilian government, who the night before had had to eat a pizza on the street in New York because the restaurant refused him permission to enter because he could not show an immunization certificate).

In his interview, Biden once again made it clear that the world is already in a new Cold War between the US and China, as he once again declared that, If Beijing invades Taiwan, the United States will send soldiers to defend that country.. It is the third time that Biden has said it, in what constitutes a radical change in US policy towards Taiwan, which is based on the ‘strategic ambiguity’ that happened, precisely, for not specifying whether the US would send troops to defend Taiwan from a hypothetical invasion of China. On the other two occasions, the White House declared that Biden’s claims were not a breach of the “strategic ambiguity” doctrine.

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Biden’s statement is not trivial, for several reasons. One is the date, since it arrives on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly, the most important diplomatic event in the world, which is being held this week in New York, with speeches by the Heads of State and Government of practically all the passes of the earth. Another, because, in the war in Ukraine, Biden has always insisted that the US not send soldiers to that country, although he maintains a “steeped” commitment to defending NATO allies in case Russia attacks them.

The big difference, however, is that between the United States and Taiwan there is no binding international treaty, as is the case of the Atlantic Charter on which NATO is based, and which establishes that an attack against one member is against all, something that was made clear in the 9/11 attacks, when the Alliance offered help To USA. So as long as there is no treaty between Washington and Taipei, the ambiguity will remain, albeit Biden’s political commitment seems very firm.

The United States does not recognize Taiwan’s independence, and officially supports the “one China” idea, which, in practice, constitutes an implicit endorsement of Beijing’s position. However, Washington opposes a unification by force. And it is unthinkable that taiwan, a democracy of 23 million people, is going to accede to the union with China, a dictatorship of 1,400 million. All that twisted diplomatic position – support for unification, but without it being carried out violently, which is the only way it can take place – is the basis of strategic ambiguity.

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In 2021, The United States admitted that it has several dozen soldiers in Taiwan. from at least one year before. These are soldiers from the Marine Corps specialized in amphibious warfare and Special Forces, who officially carry out training tasks. Washington kept several thousand troops in Taiwan for decades, but began withdrawing them after 1972, when it reestablished diplomatic relations with China.

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