Biden Says U.S. Will Defend Taiwan If China Attacks
President Joe Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked, in an apparent departure from a long-held US foreign policy position. But a White House spokesman later told some US media outlets that his remarks did not signify a change in policy, BBC reported.
Photo Insert: "Yes and yes," was US President Joe Biden's emphatic answer when asked the question at a CNN town hall on whether he could "vow to protect Taiwan."
The US has a law that requires it to help Taiwan defend itself. But it pursues a policy of "strategic ambiguity," where it is deliberately vague about what it would actually do if China were to attack Taiwan.
At a CNN town hall event, a participant referred to recent reports that China had tested a hypersonic missile. He asked Biden if he could "vow to protect Taiwan," and what he would do to keep up with China's military development. Biden responded: "Yes and yes."
He added there was no need to "worry about whether they're going to be more powerful," because "China, Russia and the rest of the world know we're the most powerful military in the history of the world".
He was then queried a second time by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper if the US would come to Taiwan's defense in the event of an attack by China. Biden replied: "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."
A White House spokesperson later appeared to walk back Biden's comments, telling US media outlets that the US was "not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy."
This is not the first time this has happened. In August, Biden appeared to suggest the same stance on Taiwan in an interview with ABC News. The White House had also said then that US policy on Taiwan had not changed.
The US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but sells arms to it as part of its Taiwan Relations Act, which states that the US must provide the island with the means to defend itself. It has formal ties with China, and also diplomatically acknowledges China's position that there is only one Chinese government.