The World This Week

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The World This Week
China's hypersonic tests, Russia's Afghanistan summit, and EU's Poland challenge

  GP Team

The World This Week #142, Vol. 3, No. 43

Keerthana Nambiar, Harini Madhusudan and Joeana Cera Mathews

China: The hypersonics missile tests
What happened?
On 17 October, the Financial Times published a report stating, "China tested a nuclear capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target." The report quoted five unnamed individuals familiar with the test stating, "the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target." According to the intelligence brief, three sources confirmed, "the missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles" the other two said, "the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realized."

On 18 October, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian denied the report claiming it was a "routine test of space vehicle technology of spacecraft's reusability." On 19 October, Global Times reported, the Chinese launch as a missile launch is a "wild guess," and the US is exaggerating it to "accommodate its own domestic political and national strategic needs." "As long as Washington does not incite or create strategic confrontation between major powers, the world will be peaceful," concludes Global Times.

What is the background?
First, recent reports on China's hypersonic portfolio. In recent times, there have been multiple reports on China developing hypersonic missiles and the DF-17 hypersonic weapon programme. Publciations from the Jamestown Foundation, The New York Times, and Washington Post referred to the same. These reports hint towards the People's Republic of China (PRC) pursuing to augment its arsenal through various hypersonic delivery systems. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been heavily investing in hypersonic missiles and is now researching hypersonic cruise missiles (HCM) and hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV). From 2018 to 2020, Xinhua, South China Morning Post, and China Daily reported multiple deployments of weapons ranging from medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), HGVs, and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with the capacity of reaching the US mainland. 

Second, the investment in hypersonic technology. It started with the US in the 1980s. The hypersonic research waxed and waned over the period with the participation of countries hoping for superpower ambitions. The rush for hypersonic missiles is most visible in the US, Russia, and China possess most advanced hypersonic missile weapons. Australia, India, France, Germany, and Japan are still developing the weapon and plans to test it in the coming years. North Korea claims to have tested the hypersonic missiles in September, joining the small pool of countries with hypersonic missile capabilities. Currently, China aims to develop weapons that can reach distant targets, although their ballistic missiles are as fast as hypersonic systems. The objective is to attain unpredictable maneuverability that can change the course of direction with a speed of five times more than sound resulting in better penetration systems compared to the US Ballistic Missile Defense systems. The hypersonic missiles are the Chinese defensive mechanism from the US' growing aggression in the Indo-Pacific, ensuring stronger nuclear power and keeping the US out of China's internal matters. 

Third, the US concerns about China's technological development. The  geopolitical tensions between US and China have seemingly accelerated China's nuclear ambitions. The lack of transparency by China unsettles America making it apprehensive of taking any further actions. Washington has constantly been monitoring and tracking PLA's growing power due to the visible patterns. Even though this is not the first time the US has been wary of China's actions, the ongoing cross-Strait situation with Taiwan becomes a friction flashpoint increasing the concern.

What does this mean?
First, China's hypersonic program. The fast development of catastrophic weapons gives Beijing a greater incentive to strike first. This presents potential risks to regional stability and understanding the Chinese strategic thinking on hypersonic technologies.  

Second, the use of hypersonic as a counter system between the US and China. Hypersonic seems to be the latest inventory in which the big powers are trying compete. The hypersonic technology's maneuverability and capacity to cover greater distances shrinking the shooter-to-target timeline, is the crown jewel. 

Russia: The Afghan summit 
What happened?
On 20 October, Russia hosted the "Moscow format" talks with delegates from ten countries and the Taliban. The joint statement formalized the position and demands of the member countries to the Taliban. 

In order to obtain recognition, the Taliban is expected to create a state management system and form "a truly inclusive government that adequately reflects the interests of all major ethnopolitical forces in the country," as a prerequisite to completing the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan, said the joint statement. 
To address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the statement proposed that the Taliban adopt a moderate and wise internal and foreign policy that would help "achieve the shared goals of durable peace, security, safety and long-term prosperity and respect the rights of ethnic groups, women and children. Last week, Vladimir Putin noted that there has been no rush to officially recognize the Taliban but there was a need to engage in talks with them. 

What is the background? 
First, the history of the Moscow format. Russia has established the Moscow Format talks since 2017 to address the issues related to Afghanistan. This is the third meeting and the first one since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. The talks are significant because it aims to consolidate the international community's efforts in preventing a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Importantly, it includes representatives of China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and the former Soviet nations of Central Asia, along with representatives of the Taliban and other Afghan factions. All participants of the Moscow format are close to the region and have substantial stakes in the crisis in Afghanistan. 

Second, the Russian interests in Afghanistan. Moscow has been engaging with the Taliban during the recent period.  Despite being on Russia's list of banned groups, representatives of the Taliban have visited Russia for talks regularly since 2018. The Russian approach can be seen in two aspects; one, they are embracing closer ties with the Taliban after the US withdrawal, and to ensure stability in the surrounding Central Asia. Russia would want to avoid getting its military involved in any way. Unlike many countries, Russia has not evacuated its embassy from Kabul, and the Russian Ambassador is known to have maintained regular contacts with the Taliban since they took over Kabul. 

Third, the participants of the Moscow format. The following took part in the summit: Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan, China, Turkmenistan, India, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They called on the Taliban to pursue a moderate and wise internal and foreign policy, be friendly to the neighboring states, and achieve the shared goals of "durable peace, security, safety, long term prosperity, and respect the rights of ethnic groups, women, and children. 

Fourth, the Taliban's interest in the Moscow format. The Taliban used this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to preventing the use of Afghanistan territory against its neighbors and other states. One of the primary interests was to receive official recognition. 

What does it mean? 
The Moscow format is one of the many attempts at balancing power with the new realities in Afghanistan. It is significant because of the presence of Russia, China, and Pakistan along with the Taliban, in the absence of the US. There has been a softer approach in the rhetoric from the Russian side; for example, the state news agency, which is mandated to use certain terms, was seen replacing the word 'terrorist' with 'radical' in their reports of the Taliban. Though a joint statement was released, there is no sign of officially recognizing the Taliban government until they observe promising actions from their side. The timely role taken by Russia, by organizing the Moscow format summit, and also making a statement by skipping participation in the G20 attempt of the same, indicates a difference in approach to the issue at hand.

The EU: Poland continues to defy the EU 
What happened?
On 12 October, a Polish Constitutional Tribunal ruling that declared the primacy of Polish law over the EU law came into force. On 19 October, at the European Parliament plenary held at Strasbourg in France, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: "If you want to make Europe into a nationless superstate, first gain the consent of all European countries and societies. The supreme law of the Republic of Poland is the constitution."

The Commission President Ursula von der Leyen responded: "It is a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order. This is the first time ever that a court of a member state finds that the EU Treaties are incompatible with the national constitution." 

On 21 October, at the European Council summit held at Brussels, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said: "If you want to be part of a club and have the advantages of a club, you must play by the rules."

What is the background?
First, the trigger. Poland and the EU have had a long-standing feud challenging the rule of law and the supremacy of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It is in this backdrop, the highly-criticized Constitutional Tribunal passed the ruling. Allegedly influenced by Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), the Tribunal is condemned for its illegitimate and biased undertakings. The PiS largely backed the ruling as it would facilitate in ridding judicial independence, letting them control the judiciary. Despite the MEPs' decision to not discuss Poland in-depth — fearing the length of such a discussion — this is exactly what happened. Overshadowing the Council summit's agenda, Poland challenging EU supremacy stole the show.

Second, the critics and supporters. Opponents to the Polish stance maintained that it could not "choose" to apply laws it had formerly ratified. The declining state of Europe's democratic values was another concern. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is also at odds with the EU, was Poland's primary advocate. He questioned the need for imposing sanctions on "one of the best European countries," referring to Poland. Germany's Angela Merkel warned the EU against isolating Poland and called for measures that would unite the bloc instead of dividing it. Several EU leaders also requested that Poland change its stance.

Third, the Polish response to the retaliatory measures. Poland's pandemic recovery funds, which accounts for EUR 24 billion, are yet to be approved by the EU. At the plenary meeting, Morawiecki blamed the EU for singling out Poland by unjustly discriminating against them. He said that Poland would not "back down" in the face of "bullying and threats.

Fourth, no 'Polexit'. Similar to Brexit, 'Polexit' as a term has been coined to refer to Poland's potential exit from the bloc. However, Morawiecki has repeatedly denied the possibility of the same. He said: "We are here, we belong here and we are not going anywhere." Unlike Brexit, which received popular support prior to the exit, Polish citizens repel the thought of leaving the bloc. Staunch supporters of the EU, Poles are too accustomed to the benefits of being an EU insider. 

What does this mean?
The reality of the situation is that it is an unwinnable one and both parties are aware of this painful truth. The EU lacks the mechanisms to punish Poland such that it would revert its stance, while Poland's challenge against the EU will remain just that. An event wherein the EU budges on Poland's request is when the bloc will see its end; the supremacy of the rule of law is the bloc's foundation. If the EU were to emerge victorious by some fortuitous series of events, it would imply risking its own agenda — every major policy decision requires the bloc's unanimous vote; upsetting Poland will not help. Thus, the EU cannot afford to go into battle with one of its own. 
Also, in the news...
By Avishka Ashok & Sukanya Bali

East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: FM spokesperson urges the US to avoid sending wrong signals 
On 22 October, China's Foreign Minister spokesperson urged the US to avoid sending wrong signals in support of Taiwan. This came soon after the US President said they will stand in Taiwan's defense if the island faces mainland "incursion". Global Times reported, a Chinese spokesperson said: "We urge the US side to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, be cautious in words and deeds on the Taiwan question, and refrain from sending any wrong signals to secessionist, so as not to seriously damage China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits."

China: Countries raise concern over human rights abuse in Xinjiang 
On 21 October, 43 countries at the UN accused China of human rights abuse in the Xinjiang region. They voiced their concerns over the one million people detained in internment camps. In response, China's UN ambassador, Zhang Jun said: "To the US and a few other countries: Your desperate attempts to cover up your own terrible human rights record will not work." He further added, "No matter how many times repeated, lies are still lies … You are using human rights as a pretext for political maneuvering to provoke confrontation."

China: Tenth China-Africa Think Tank Forum 
On 20 October, China organized the tenth China-Africa Think Tanks Forum with the theme, "Strengthening Solidarity and Cooperation, Enhancing Innovation and Development to Build Together a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future" in Hangzhou. The meeting was attended by African officials, African envoys to China, and over 200 Chinese and African experts. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Deng Li in the video message said: "China and Africa are a community with a shared future and take the lead in advancing the building of the community with a shared future for mankind." He further added, "When Africa needed help, China offered the largest-scale humanitarian support by sending vaccines, pandemic control supplies and medical teams. Now, China and Africa need solidarity and cooperation more than ever."

China: Hong Kong government criticizes US 'safe haven' scheme  
On 22 October, the Hong Kong government criticized the US for its 'safe haven' scheme for Hong Kongers. The scheme allowed Hong Kongers to extend their stay in the US, amid Beijing's crackdowns. Hong Kong government spokesperson said this move is an act of "blatant interference" in internal affairs. He further said: "Governments that not only harbor but invite or encourage fugitive offenders to live in their country wantonly disregard the rule of law and expose their hypocrisy for all to see."
South Korea: Turkey's FM on a three-day visit 
On 22 October, Turkey's Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, arrived in Seoul for a three-day visit. Cavusoglu met with Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum and vowed to bolster ties and increase personnel and cultural exchanges between the two countries. The Korea Herald reported, both the countries also signed a pact for the avoidance of double taxation and scientific and technological cooperation agreement. Seoul's Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong met with Cavusoglu and asked for Turkey's support in the peace process of the Korean Peninsula. 

North Korea: Tests ballistic missile; IAEA push for denuclearization 
On 19 October, North Korea test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile. Korea Central News Agency reported: the missile had "lots of advanced control guidance technologies including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility." KCNA further added the test will "greatly contribute to putting the defense technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy." The launch marks the country's eighth weapons test this year and its fifth launch since September. 

On 22 October, Director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, in a webinar stressed the need for a diplomatic process to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. He said: "My biggest concern is that there is no diplomatic process ongoing... There must be. There must be something that is there, so that there is peace in the Korean Peninsula, there is less tension there and we can move to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." He further added: "What is relevant is to see that compared with 2009, this program has spawned activity wise, geographically into the country." 

Myanmar: Military rejects ASEAN invitation of a non-political leader 
On 22 October, Myanmar's military government rejected ASEAN's invitation of a 'non-political leader' to the regional summit, instead of the junta leader. In a press release, the Foreign Ministry said: "the heads of state or government had equal and full rights to participate in ASEAN summits." Further added, "Myanmar will not be in a position to accept any outcome of the discussions and decisions which are contrary to the provisions, objectives and cherished principles of the ASEAN Charter." Last week, in an emergency meeting, ASEAN had decided to exclude the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and instead invite a 'non-political figure' to the ASEAN summit.

South Asia This Week
India: Begins joint naval exercise Konkan Shakti 2021 with the UK  
On 21 October, India and UK began their first-ever tri-services joint exercise, "Konkan Shakti 2021." The exercise will be conducted in two phases; the Harbour phase from 21 to 23 October and the sea phase will be concluded on 27 October. The exercise, "aims to derive mutual benefits from each other's experiences and also showcase the continuing cooperation between the two countries." The Indian Navy said, the exercise also features "advanced warfare tactics, anti-submarine warfare exercises, over-the-horizon targeting drills, air defense exercises, cross deck landings and other complex manoeuvers."

Pakistan: FATF decides to keep Pakistan on 'grey list'
On 21 October, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep Pakistan on the grey list but ruled out the possibility of blacklisting the country. FATF President Marcus Pleyer said: "Pakistan had to complete two concurrent action plans with a total of 34 items and it has now addressed or largely addressed 30 of the items." He further said Pakistan is making "good progress." Additionally, the FATF stated that "Pakistan should continue to work to address its other strategically important AML/CFT [anti-money laundering and terrorist financing] deficiencies, namely by providing evidence that it actively seeks to enhance the impact of sanctions beyond its jurisdiction by nominating additional individuals and entities for designation at the UN." 

Afghanistan: Afghan women urge the UN to block Taliban from gaining a seat 
On 22 October, a group of former Afghan women politicians and officials urged the UN to deny the Taliban a seat in the organization. An event in support of Afghan women and girls was organized by Britain, Qatar, Canada, UN Women, and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security. Tolo News reported before the event former Afghan politician and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi said: "The UN needs to give that seat to somebody who respects the rights of everyone in Afghanistan." She added, "Aid, money, recognition - they are all leverages that the world should use for inclusion, for respect to the rights of women, for respect to the rights of everybody." The group also urged countries "to pressure the Taliban to put their words in action when it comes to women's rights."

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa 
Georgia: US Defence Secretary visits Georgia and Romania 
On 18 October, the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Georgian Defence Minister Junasher Burchuladze signed an agreement to extend the older support agreement on Georgia Defense Readiness Program which was set to expire in December 2021. The agreement was signed with an objective to showcase the US' support to the Georgian military. On 20 October, Austin also visited Romania and reassured the country that the security of the region continues to be a mutual interest. The Pentagon explained that Austin's tour was being held to "reassure allies and partners of America's commitment to their sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression."

Uzbekistan: Government rejects the US offer to deploy troops in the country
On 22 October, the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov addressed a press meeting and said that the US need not deploy its troops to the country. He said: "Today the reality is that there is no need for this." According to Kamilov, the discussions held between the US delegation and the Uzbek government clearly informed the US government that Uzbekistan would not accept the deployment of troops on their national territory. 

Israel: Russian President hosts Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sochi 
On 22 October, the Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet. The meeting is the first in-person meeting between the two leaders where they discussed Iran and the Syrian situation in detail. Putin described the Russian-Israeli ties as unique and appreciated the connection between the people of the two countries. Bennett said: "We will talk about the situation in Syria, and the efforts to halt the Iranian military nuclear program." He also appreciated the Soviet help in defeating the Naziz during World War II and called Russia a true friend of the Jewish people. 

Israel: Ministry of Defence declares six humanitarian groups as terror outfits 
On 22 October, the Israeli Ministry of Defence declared six Palestinian human rights groups as "terrorist organizations" as they were connected to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The Ministry spokesperson said: "the humanitarian groups constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the Popular Front. They are controlled by senior leaders of the PFLP and employ its members, including some who had participated in terror activity." The Ministry also accused the rights group of funding the PFLP and its terror-inducing activities. 

Syria: Delegation drafting the constitution stuck again with no consensus
On 22 October, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen said that no progress had been made at the sixth round of talks between the Syrian administration and the opposition. He said: "I think it's fair to say the discussion today was a big disappointment. We did not manage to achieve what we had hoped to achieve – that we would have a good discussion to reach forward on some kind of consensus." The first meeting since January 2021 held hopes for a major breakthrough in the process of drafting constitutional principles. 

Benin: Parliament passes amendment to legalize abortion
On 20 October, the Parliament in Benin voted to legalize abortion. Previously, abortion was permitted under rare and special occasions. The new law passed by the Parliament enables women in the country to abort the pregnancy if "it is likely to aggravate or cause material, educational, professional or moral distress, incompatible with the woman or the unborn child's interest." Despite some serious opposition to the legalization, the Parliament eventually passed the amendment. The Minister of Health said: "This measure will be a relief for many women who face undesired pregnancies, and are forced to put their lives in danger with botched abortions." 

Ethiopia: Government initiated airstrikes compels UN to abort flight landing in Tigray
On 21 October, the Ethiopian government spokesperson revealed that the government's most recent and fourth airstrike this week on Mekelle targeted the facility which was housing the TPLF and acted as a military training center for the rebel group. The TPLF spokesperson said that its air defense forces were able to ruin the government's attacks, rendering them unsuccessful. On 22 October, the flight equipped by the United Nations had to abort its landing in Mekelle due to the air raids. The international organization later had to suspend its twice-a-week flight to Tigray's capital. 

Sudan: Thousands gather in the streets and demand a civilian government
On 21 October, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) organized a people's protest, demanding for a full civilian rule in Sudan. Thousands of Sudanese participated in the protests in different cities and called for a civilian government. The people rejected the military's interference with the government as the country tries to move away from an authoritarian political system. The protests caused the death of one journalist who was shot in the head as the state reacted harshly to the demonstrations. 

Eswatini: SADC sends envoy to discuss political unrest in the country
On 20 October, the South African President and Security Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Cyril Ramaphosa sent high-level envoys to Eswatini to discuss the political unrest in the country. The protests in the country led to the death of one person and injured 80 others as the government tried to squash the pro-democracy demands of the demonstrators. The South African President also spoke with the King of Eswatini when the violence on the streets peaked. However, there seems to be no relaxation in the violent nature of the protests. 

Europe and the Americas
Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel attends her last EU Summit
On 22 October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the EU summit for the last time as the representative of Germany. Her participation in the final summit was appreciated with an ovation as the European leaders bade farewell to one of the oldest members of the European Union. The Belgian Prime Minister complimented on her "calm" approach to issues while the Council President said: "summits without the long-time chancellor was like Paris without the Eiffel Tower." However, there were also some representatives who seemed unhappy with her approach which did not work with Poland.

European Union: Leaders call for stricter migration control
On 22 October, the European Union discussed the issue of refugees and migrants as the 27 EU leaders met for the second day of the summit. The issue was considered to be of high importance as thousands of migrants attempted to cross into the European Union from the Belarusian border. The refugees came from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran. In the previous week, over 4300 people entered Germany from Poland after having travelled from Belarus. The congregation of leaders called for tougher controls on the migrants' issue as Europe faces a fast-approaching energy crisis and a cold winter.

Turkey: Authorities detain six foreign nationals on suspicion of attack against Chechens
On 21 October, Reuters cited a report from TRT Haber and said that four Russian, one Ukrainian and one Uzbek citizen had been detained in Turkey for their alleged involvement in planning an attack against the Chechen dissidents. However, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson reported that he knew nothing about the arrest of the foreign nationals in Turkey. Meanwhile, Russia also claims to not know about the arrest of the Russians on Turkish territory. According to the local reports made by Reuters, the arrests were made on 8 October. 

Belarus: French President expelled for delay in presenting credentials to the President
On 18 October, the French government announced that the French Ambassador to Belarus was asked to return home after he failed to present his credentials to the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Media reports hint that the removal of the Ambassador is in reaction to France's unacceptance of Lukashenko's re-election in August 2020. However, the Foreign Ministry of Belarus said that the expulsion was caused due to the delay in presenting his credentials to the President. He said: "The head of the French diplomatic mission did not express readiness to complete the procedure for assuming office as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Belarus, which is stipulated by international law and generally recognised practice."

Brazil: Senate report accused President Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity
On 21 October, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejected the accusations made by the Senate's report that sought to charge him for crimes against humanity for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He insisted that he was "guilty of nothing." However, it is yet to be decided if the charges will be investigated as it needs the approval of Brazil's prosecutor-general who has been appointed by Bolsonaro. He is being asked to take responsibility for the death of over 6,00,000 Brazilians who lost their lives to the pandemic and to Bolsonaro's consistently insubstantial healthcare policies. 

El Salvador: Congress votes to retain complete ban on abortion
On 20 October, the Congress in El Salvador voted to retain the complete ban on abortion and ruled that abortions will not be allowed even in the direst situations. Abortion in the country is a punishable offense for a period of eight years. One of the congresswomen said: "We have legislated in favor of protecting life from its conception." However, an opposition member of the congress expressed discontent and said: "Not considering abortion on specific grounds is a violation of their rights, as they are forced to accept situations that often endanger their lives."

The US: House of Representatives pass resolution to charge Steve Bannon with contempt of Congress
On 21 October, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to hold Steve Bannon responsible for his refusal to accept the subpoena. Bannon has been withholding information from the court by arguing that former President Donald Trump's executive privilege would apply to him as well. The resolution has been passed as the nine-member select committee voted to pursue criminal charges against Bannon for his refusal to provide the necessary information and documents. The committee is certain that he played a significant role in the events of 6 January 2021. The report submitted by the committee said: "the former Trump adviser appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of 6 January, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions."

The US: President Biden reiterates vow to protect Taiwan from external invasions
On 22 October, the US President Joe Biden commented on the Taiwan issue in a TV interview with Anderson Cooper at a CNN Town Hall. When questioned about protecting Taiwan from a Chinese military invasion, the US President pledged to extend the US support to protecting the island country. He reiterated the US commitment to Taiwan to protect the country in case of an eventuality where it is attacked by China. He also reaffirmed that he does not intend to start a cold war with China and said: "I don't want a Cold War with China. I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back. We are not going to change any of our views." 

About the Authors
Harini Madhusudan is a PhD Scholar in the School of Conflict and Peace Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Joeana Cera Matthews and Keerthana Nambiar are post-graduate scholars from the University of Mysore, and Visiting Research Scholar at NIAS. Sukanya Bali is a PhD Scholar at OP Jindal University. Avishka Ashok is a Research Associate in the School of Conflict and Peace Studies NIAS. 

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