Biden says U.S. forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion

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WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden said US forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement yet on the issue, something that is sure to anger Beijing.

Asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview on Sunday whether US forces would defend the self-ruled island claimed by China, he replied: “Yes, if indeed there was an unprecedented attack.”

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Asked to clarify whether he meant that, unlike Ukraine, American forces — American men and women — would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, Biden replied: “Yes.”

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The interview was just the last time Biden appeared to go beyond long-stated U.S. policy on Taiwan, but his statement was clearer than previous ones about committing U.S. troops to defend the island

The United States has long adhered to a policy of “strategic ambiguity” and not making it clear whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.

Asked for comment, a White House spokesman said US policy toward Taiwan had not changed.

“The president has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year. He also made it clear then that our Taiwan policy has not changed. That remains true,” the spokesman said.

The CBS interview with Biden took place last week. The president is in Britain on Monday for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

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In May, Biden was asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan and replied -economic-plan -2022-05-23: “Yes… This is the commitment we made.”

In the 60 Minutes interview, Biden reiterated that the United States did not support Taiwan independence and remained committed to a “One China” policy in which Washington officially recognized Beijing and not Taipei.

Biden’s remarks are sure to infuriate Beijing, which was angered by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August.

That visit prompted China to conduct its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, and China has protested moves by US lawmakers to advance legislation that would improve US military support for Taiwan.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to bring Taiwan under the control of democratically-ruled Beijing and has not ruled out the use of force.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

In a phone call with Biden in July, Xi warned against playing with fire in Taiwan, saying “those who play with fire will die from it.”

Asked last October whether the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which the United States is required by law to provide the means to defend itself, Biden said: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.” .

At the time, a White House spokesman said Biden was not announcing any change in US policy, and some experts referred to the comment as a “gaffe”.

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Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the US German Marshall Fund, said that if Biden was to make such promises, he needed to make sure he could back them up.

“If President Biden plans to defend Taiwan, he should make sure the U.S. military has the capability to do so,” he said. “Rhetorical support that is not backed up by actual capabilities is unlikely to strengthen deterrence.”

Biden’s Asia policy czar, Kurt Campbell, has in the past rejected any move toward “strategic clarity” on Taiwan, saying there were “significant downsides” -pacific/significant-downsides- strategic-clarity-over-taiwan-us-2021-05-04 to this approach. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Costas Pitas, Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Lincoln Feast.)



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