United States President Joe Biden has said US forces would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, the strongest indication yet of a shift away from Washington’s decades-long policy of strategic ambiguity toward the island democracy.
Asked in a television interview whether the US military would defend the self-governed island if China invaded, Biden said it would if there “was an unprecedented attack.”
Asked to clarify further, Biden confirmed that US personnel would come to the defence of Taiwan, unlike in Ukraine, which Washington has given material support and military equipment to repel Russia without committing American troops.
During a trip to Japan in May, Biden appeared to confirm that he would use force to defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China.
While many observers have taken Biden’s comments as signalling the end of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, White House officials have repeatedly insisted that US policy toward the island remains unchanged.
“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.”
China claims Taiwan as a province that must be “reunified” with the mainland, by force if necessary, and has accused the US of disrupting regional stability and encouraging Taiwanese separatism.