Biden reiterates that the US will defend Taiwan if China invades.
President Joe Biden stated in an interview aired Sunday that US soldiers would protect Taiwan if it was attacked by China, providing the strongest response yet to the question of whether the US will come to the island's help.
The words might be seen as a reversal in Washington's long-held policy of maintaining "strategic ambiguity" in the deployment of military action in response to a Chinese attack on Taipei. Previously, the president made similar comments that did not result in an official policy change.
Taiwan and mainland China have been administered independently since their separation in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Beijing has subsequently attempted to reintegrate the island into the fold.
In an interview with CBS News, Biden stated that the US is not supporting Taiwan to become independent. When asked if US military would protect the democratic island, Trump replied, "Yes, if there was an extraordinary attack."
The reporter tried to explain Biden's position by asking if, unlike in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, US military soldiers would protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese assault, and the president replied, "Yes."
According to CBS News, a White House official subsequently stated that the United States' position toward Taiwan has not changed.
The US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan and supplies the island with guns and spare components to ensure adequate self-defense capability.
After Washington moved diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the strategic ambiguity doctrine was implemented.
The strategy is meant not only to prevent China from using force against Taiwan, but also to discourage Taiwan from pursuing independence, because neither Beijing nor Taipei can be convinced that the US would act to defend the island in the event of a confrontation.
Some US politicians have urged for "strategic clarity" to dissuade Beijing as the Asian country ramps up its military presence in the region and puts pressure on Taiwan.
Biden sparked outrage with statements he made about Taiwan in May, when he was asked if the US would be ready to intervene militarily if China advanced on the country.
The US president stated during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, "Yes. That is the promise we made."
At the time, Biden denied any shift in US policy toward Taiwan.