Joe Biden, the president of the United States, made the most direct remark on the subject of cross-strait relations when he declared that the American military would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion.
According to The Washington Post, quoting CBS’s “60 Minutes” programme, Biden responded to a question on supporting Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion by saying that the US would do so “if there was an unprecedented attack.”
Biden had stated that US armed personnel would stay out of the conflict once Russia began its special military operation in Ukraine. Biden was questioned by Scott Pelley, the interviewer for the 60-minute broadcast, about whether the scenario would change in the event of an attack on Taiwan.
“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, U.S. forces — U.S. men and women — would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?” Pelley asked.
“Yes,” Biden replied.
The interview is just the most recent instance in which Biden has stated that if China attacked, the United States would support Taiwan militarily. Each time, White House representatives made it clear that his comments did not herald a shift in US policy.
A representative of the Biden administration recently drew attention to President Biden’s comments from May, when he assured reporters that Taiwan’s strategic ambiguity was still in effect. According to The Washington Post, at the time, Biden did not pledge to send US soldiers to Taiwan to defend the nation.
“He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed,” the official said. “That remains true.”
A request for comment on Sunday did not immediately elicit a response from a State Department official.
The “60 Minutes” piece falsely claimed that since 1979, US policy has acknowledged Taiwan as a part of China. The American government, under successive administrations, has acknowledged Beijing’s perspective for decades under the “one-China policy” without endorsing Taiwan’s sovereignty.
The United States agreed to give Taiwan weapons to defend itself under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act, which was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, and “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardise the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.”
The Washington Post said that although the United States has traditionally engaged in “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to what it would do, the terminology neither affirms nor dispels the potential for military intervention.