Joe Biden says US will defend Taiwan from Chinese attack

President Joe Biden said the United States would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, in a stark warning to Beijing a month after China held large-scale military exercises in response to a Chinese attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

Asked in a interview on Sundays with CBS News’s 60 minutes Whether he would deploy US forces to defend Taiwan from Chinese military action, Biden replied: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

When stressed again about whether the US will send forces to protect or not TaiwanIn contrast to the situation in Ukraine, the president said: “Yes”.

Biden has issued three similar warnings in the past, but Sunday was the first time he did so since China reacted furiously to Pelosi’s visit with the unprecedented move of firing ballistic missiles. religion in Taiwan.

Biden made a similar statement on the defense of Taiwan in Japan in May. At the time, he said US policy towards Taiwan had not changed, but his comments were seen as diluting Washington’s decades-long policy of “strategic ambiguity”.

Under this policy, the United States does not specify whether it will defend Taiwan, in an effort to prevent Taipei from declaring independence and to prevent China from using force to pressure its sovereignty over the island. this.

Some experts have urged the Biden administration to adopt a policy of “strategic clarity” – sending a stronger message to Beijing as the Chinese military. increase its active activity around Taiwan. But others say his comment has created a new kind of confusion.

The White House said Sunday that, despite Biden’s explicit comments about defending Taiwan, US policy towards Taiwan remains the same.

“In my view, ‘strategic ambiguity’ is eroding, but what replaces it is close to” strategic confusion” rather than “strategic clarity”.

“China has long assumed that the US would defend Taiwan if attacked, so these statements only reinforce the People’s Liberation Army’s plans. I suspect that China focuses greater attention on the ability of the US to defend Taiwan, which many people question.

Biden’s remarks came days after the Senate foreign affairs committee passed the Taiwan Policy Act, a bill authorizing $6.5 billion in arms funding and military training for Taiwan. The bill would also force the president to impose sanctions on China’s major state-owned banks if Beijing escalates its aggression against Taiwan, which could include actions such as blocking or seizing the banks. island off the coast of Taiwan.

US and Chinese officials are also discussing the possibility of Biden and his counterpart Xi Jinping meeting face-to-face for the first time as leaders at the G20 summit in Indonesia in November.

China accuses the US of diluting its “one China” policy, under which the US recognizes Beijing as the government of China but only acknowledges without endorsing its position that Taiwan is part of China.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter

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