Your Tuesday Briefing: Biden’s pledge to Taiwan

Plus a Russian diplomat resigns in protest and an inquiry into Trump-era ethics practices.
Author Headshot

By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. President Biden pledged military support for Taiwan, a Russian diplomat resigned in protest and Times reporters examined whether Trump-era officials exploited state trips for personal gain.

President Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan at the joint news conference.Doug Mills/The New York Times

Biden pledges support for Taiwan

At a Tokyo news conference with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, a reporter asked President Biden if he’d be willing to “get involved militarily to defend Taiwan,” which he has not done with Ukraine.

“Yes,” Biden said. “That’s the commitment we made,” he added when the reporter pressed.

Biden’s pledge to use military force to defend Taiwan if China ever attacked the island democracy, which he offered without caveat or clarification, dispensed with the “strategic ambiguity” traditionally favored by U.S. presidents.

Biden’s comments also suggested that he would go further for Taiwan than supply arms, as he has done in Ukraine. “It would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it’s a burden that is even stronger,” he said of a hypothetical attack on Taiwan.

Context: The White House tried to spin Biden’s comments as reiterating a commitment to “provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.” But Biden has previously ignored the practiced imprecision of his predecessors with regard to China and Taiwan during his presidency.

Background: Beijing insists that Taiwan is a part of China’s territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation. The U.S. has historically warned China against using force against Taiwan, while generally remaining vague about how it would respond.

Diplomacy: Biden has enlisted nearly a dozen Asia-Pacific nations to join a new, loosely defined economic bloc meant to counter China and reassert U.S. influence in the region.

Boris Bondarev, right, at a U.N. meeting in Geneva this month.Mark Henley/Panos Pictures

A Russian diplomat resigns in protest

In the most high-profile gesture of protest so far made by a Russian diplomat over the war in Ukraine, a counselor in Moscow’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva resigned on Monday.

“Never have I been so ashamed of my country,” Boris Bondarev, a mid-ranking official, wrote in an email to diplomats. He described the invasion as a crime against both Ukraine and the Russian people, and told The Times that the Kremlin “basically got everything wrong.”

In Davos, Switzerland, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressed global business leaders at the World Economic Forum, which Russian diplomats and oligarchs were barred from attending.

Zelensky urged leaders to establish safe corridors for Ukrainian grain exports and pressed for a full embargo on Russian oil and trade — as well as the banning of all Russian banks from global financial networks.

He also encouraged businesses to flee Russia and set up shop in Ukraine, promising a postwar environment scrubbed of corruption and untainted by association with “war crimes.”

Other updates:

In 2018, Jared Kushner and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, met in Washington, D.C.Saudi Press Agency

Did Kushner exploit Gulf relationships?

Shortly before the 2020 presidential election, Trump administration officials unveiled a U.S. government-sponsored program called the Abraham Fund, which they said would raise $3 billion for projects around the Middle East.

The fund vanished when Donald Trump left office. But Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and former adviser, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary under Trump, each quickly created a private fund that picked up where the idea left off.

A Times examination questions whether they sought to exploit official relationships, forged while trying to raise money for the Abraham Fund, for their private business interests. Both soon returned to Gulf courts as private citizens to ask for investments.

Context: The fund promised to capitalize on the Abraham Accords, diplomatic agreements Kushner had championed between Israel and some Arab states.

Details: Within three months, Mnuchin’s new firm had received $500 million commitments from the Emiratis, Kuwaitis and Qataris, and a $1 billion commitment from the main Saudi sovereign wealth fund. Six months after Kushner left government, his new firm reached an agreement for $2 billion from the Saudis.

Background: A Times report last month revealing the Saudi investments raised alarms from ethics experts and Democratic lawmakers about the appearance of potential payoffs for official acts during the Trump administration.

ADVERTISEMENT

THE LATEST NEWS

Asia
More than 100 people were plucked out of the sea after a fire.Philippine Coastguard/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images
World News
A Morning Read
This aubrite, from the London Natural History Museum’s collection, may actually be a shard of Mercury.Jonathan O'Callaghan

Scientists have long wondered if the planet Mercury may have been hit by a large object, stripping away its outer layers and leaving a rocky remnant behind. New research into rare meteorites called aubrites, scattered across museums on Earth, could shed light on mysteries surrounding the planet closest to the sun.

Subscribe Today

We hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, which is made possible through subscriber support. Subscribe to The New York Times with this special offer.

ARTS AND IDEAS

A Cannes recap

At the Cannes Film Festival, you can expect glamour, minutes-long standing ovations and passionate boos. The maximalist festival kicked off last week and will run until May 28. Here’s what you need to know.

Why do people care? Cannes has catapulted the careers of many filmmakers, like Quentin Tarantino for “Pulp Fiction.” Winning a prize can also help an art film secure wider distribution and awards recognition. “Parasite,” which won the top prize at Cannes in 2019, went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

Are any big movies premiering? Define big. For the cinephiles, films by David Cronenberg, Claire Denis and Park Chan-wook are in the running for the top prize. As for potential blockbusters, “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to Tom Cruise’s 1986 hit, and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic are also screening.

Any standouts so far? Our critic Manohla Dargis liked “Scarlet,” which tells the story of a World War I veteran and his daughter and is “filled with lyrical beauty.”

Anything major happen? A screaming woman covered in body paint crashed the red carpet, protesting sexual violence in Ukraine. Days prior, at the opening ceremony, President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a virtual address in which he quoted Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator”: “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.” — Sanam Yar

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook
David Malosh for The New York Times

J. Kenji López-Alt took a deep dive into store-bought fried shallots, a staple of Southeast Asian cuisine. Sprinkle them on top of this watermelon salad with fish sauce.

What to Listen to

A Hard Rain” is the opening installment of a multi-album series from Steven Schick, a renowned figure in contemporary music.

What to Read

Trying to pick your vacation book? Sarah Lyall has a few suggestions.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: snapshot (five letters).

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. The Times is introducing a new podcast: “First Person,” hosted by Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a Russian military disaster.

Sanam Yar wrote today’s Arts & Ideas. You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Need help? Review our newsletter help page or contact us for assistance.

You received this email because you signed up for Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition from The New York Times.

To stop receiving these emails, unsubscribe or manage your email preferences.

Subscribe to The Times

Connect with us on:

facebooktwitterinstagram

Change Your EmailPrivacy PolicyContact UsCalifornia Notices

LiveIntent LogoAdChoices Logo

The New York Times Company. 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018

Key phrases

Older messages

Your Monday Briefing: Australia’s new prime minister

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Plus President Biden's trip to Asia and catastrophic floods in India and Bangladesh. View in browser|nytimes.com Continue reading the main story Morning Briefing, Asia Pacific Edition May 23, 2022

Louder: Kendrick Lamar’s Big Return

Friday, May 20, 2022

Plus: Harry Styles, the Sex Pistols, Samora Pinderhughes and More View in browser|nytimes.com Continue reading the main story NYTimes.com/Music May 20, 2022 Author Headshot By Caryn Ganz Pop Music

Your Friday Briefing: Russia seeks more control over occupied Ukraine

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Plus the war is causing hunger in Africa and the “teals” are looking to upend Australia's elections. View in browser|nytimes.com Continue reading the main story Morning Briefing, Asia Pacific

Your Thursday Briefing: Turkey’s NATO block

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Plus North Korea's Covid strategy and China's expanding internet censorship. View in browser|nytimes.com Continue reading the main story Morning Briefing, Asia Pacific Edition May 19, 2022

Your Wednesday Briefing: Sri Lanka, out of fuel

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Plus lockdowns continue in Shanghai, and India's community health workers press for a raise. View in browser|nytimes.com Continue reading the main story Morning Briefing, Asia Pacific Edition May

New unicorn in Seattle | Card game deals in real talk on men's mental health 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Microsoft posts nearly $50B in quarterly revenue | A 'don't do list' for startup founders ADVERTISEMENT GeekWire SPONSOR MESSAGE: GeekWire's annual celebration of the Pacific Northwest

Thoughtful goodies

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Writing nooks, novel writing software, writing competitions, building meaningful connections, beautiful book covers. Thoughtful goodies By Iain Broome – 27 Apr 2022 – View online → Hello there Your

This Is What Really Happens When You Stop Wearing a Bra

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Potential Risks and Consequences Get the Magazine Real Simple Daily Finds This Is What Really Happens When You Stop Wearing a Bra Read More » 40 Editor-Approved Deals to Shop From Nordstrom's

This Is The *Real* French-Girl Way To Do Paris

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Très bonne suggestions for your next trip. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ TZR logo The Zoe Report 04.23.22 This Is The *Real* French-Girl Way To Do Paris (Travel) This Is The *Real* French-Girl

Weekender: After closing physical stores, Amazon doubles down on one-day delivery

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Signup | Forward Retail Dive Weekender April​ 23,​ 2022 | A roundup of this week's most read stories BROUGHT TO YOU BY — Paycom Keep your HR strategy on-trend Ready to strengthen the way you

Week in Review - Facebook's last stand

Saturday, October 23, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo Week in Review logo Saturday, October 23, 2021 • By Lucas Matney Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review! Last week, I dug into what was really going on

Stand out in the “sea of sameness”

Friday, September 24, 2021

And get some CXL swag ‌ ‌ ‌ Hey there, Sadly, most companies have table-stakes arguments to sell and promote their services contributing to a big “sea of sameness”. The differentiation comes from

Crypto scrutiny grows

Friday, September 17, 2021

Bloomberg A proposed Covid-19 vaccine booster shot from Pfizer-BioNTech should be given to people who are most vulnerable to serious disease, including those over the age of 65, a panel of expert

5 deals on upgrade picks

Monday, September 13, 2021

Get the very best for less Photo: Nick Guy YOUR GUIDE Wirecutter Deals Team From flights to phones, an upgrade is always exciting—but it can be expensive, too. Luckily, it doesn't always have to be