U.S. President Joe Biden said U.S forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement on the issue, drawing an angry response from China that said it sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.
Asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast on Sunday whether U.S. forces would defend the democratically governed island claimed by China, he replied: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”
Asked to clarify if he meant that unlike in Ukraine, U.S. forces – American men and women – would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, Biden replied: “Yes.”
The CBS interview was just the latest time that Biden has appeared to go beyond long-standing stated U.S. policy on Taiwan, but his statement was clearer than previous ones about committing U.S. troops to the defend the island.
Asked to comment, a White House spokesperson said U.S. policy towards Taiwan had not changed.
“The president has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year. He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true,” the spokesperson said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular briefing in Beijing that Biden’s comments sent a “seriously wrong signal” to separatists forces for Taiwan independence.