President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Sunday that US troops would defend Taiwan if it is attacked by China, the clearest answer yet to the question of whether the United States will come to the aid of the self-governed island.
The comments could be seen as a shift in Washington’s long-standing policy of maintaining “strategic ambiguity” regarding the use of military force in response to a Chinese attack on Taipei. The president has made similar suggestions in the past that have not led to an official policy change.
US President Joe Biden. (Getty/TBEN)
Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split as a result of a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since tried to reclaim the island.
Biden said in the TBEN News interview that the United States is not encouraging Taiwan to become independent. But when asked if US troops would defend the Democratic island, the president said, “Yes, if there really was an unprecedented attack.”
The interviewer tried to clarify Biden’s views by urging him on whether US military personnel, unlike what was the case with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, and the president said, “Yes.”
According to TBEN News, a White House official later said that US policy towards Taiwan has not changed.
The United States changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan, supplying the island with weapons and spare parts to maintain adequate self-defense capabilities.
The policy of strategic ambiguity was adopted after Washington changed diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
The policy is designed not only to deter China from using force against Taiwan, but also to discourage Taiwan from seeking independence, as neither Beijing nor Taipei can be sure that the United States will intervene to protect the island. defend in the event of a conflict.
Some lawmakers in the United States have called for “strategic clarity” to deter Beijing as the Asian country ramps up its military activity in the region and puts pressure on Taiwan.
Biden caused consternation with comments he made about Taiwan in May when asked whether the United States was willing to become militarily involved if China advanced into the territory.
During a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, the US president said, “Yes. That is the commitment we have made.”
Biden at the time denied any change in US policy toward Taiwan.
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