Biden says U.S. forces would defend Taiwan
Washington, D.C. – United States president Joe Biden said American forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement on the issue, drawing an angry response from China that said it sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.
Asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast on Sunday whether American forces would defend the democratically governed island claimed by China, he replied: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”
Asked to clarify if he meant that unlike in Ukraine, U.S. forces – American men and women – would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, Biden replied: “Yes.”
The CBS interview was just the latest time that Biden has appeared to go beyond long-standing stated U.S. policy on Taiwan, but his statement was clearer than previous ones about committing American troops to the defend the island.
The U.S. has long stuck to a policy of “strategic ambiguity” and not making clear whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.
Asked to comment, a White House spokesperson said U.S. policy towards Taiwan had not changed.
“The president has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year,” the spokesperson said. “He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular briefing in Beijing that Biden’s comments sent a “seriously wrong signal” to separatists forces for Taiwan independence.
China was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to Biden’s comments and had lodged a formal complaint over it, she said, warning that China reserves the right to take all necessary measures to counter separatism.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed its thanks to Biden for his reaffirming of the “U.S. government’s rock-solid security commitment to Taiwan”.
Taiwan will continue to strengthen its self-defence capabilities and deepen the close security partnership between Taiwan and the United States, the Taiwan ministry said in a statement.
The CBS interview with Biden was conducted last week. The president is in Britain for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.
In May, Biden was asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan and replied: “Yes … That’s the commitment we made.”
In the 60 Minutes interview, Biden reiterated the United States remained committed to a “one-China” policy in which Washington officially recognises Beijing not Taipei, and said the United States was not encouraging Taiwanese independence.
‘We are not moving, we are not encouraging their being independent … that’s their decision,” he said.