President Joe Biden said US troops would come to Taiwan’s defence in the event of an attack by the People’s Republic of China but stressed that longstanding American policy towards the island has not changed under his administration.
Mr Biden told CBS News’ 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that the US still abides by the policy laid out in a series of diplomatic notes between Washington and Beijing and the Jimmy Carter-era Taiwan Relations Act, under which the US acknowledges that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China" but does not recognise Beijing’s sovereignty over the island while maintaining informal but close ties with Taipei.
“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago. And that there's one China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence,” Mr Biden said, adding that the US is “not encouraging” Taiwan’s government to declare its’ independence from the mainland.
But when Pelley pressed him on whether US forces would intervene to defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, Mr Biden replied: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack”.
CBS reported that White House officials later clarified that the US policy towards committing troops to Taiwan’s defence — a policy long grounded in ambiguity — remains unchanged, but Mr Biden once again expressed a different view.
Pelley then prodded Mr Biden further by asking him to distinguish hypothetical defence of Taiwan from US support for Ukraine, which has not seen any American forces committed to help Kyiv repel Russian invasion forces.
He asked: “So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US Forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”
Mr Biden replied: “Yes”.
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