In his most direct comment to date on the subject, U.S. President Joe Biden declared in an interview aired on Sunday that U.S. soldiers would defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion.
In response to a question about whether the U.S. military would protect the autonomous island that China claimed, he said in a CBS 60 Minutes interview: "Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack."
When asked to clarify, Biden said, "Yes," when asked if he meant that, unlike in Ukraine, US forces-men and women-would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
The interview was merely the most recent instance in which Biden seemed to deviate from the US's long-standing official position on Taiwan. Still, his declaration that US troops would be sent to defend the island was more explicit than prior ones.
A White House representative was contacted for a response and stated that US 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. A White House representative was contacted for a response and stated that US policy towards Taiwan had not changed. The United States has long maintained a position whereby it does not explicitly state whether it will use military force to defend Taiwan.
When asked in May if he would be willing to use military force to defend Taiwan, Biden responded, "Yes ... That's the commitment we made."
In the 60 Minutes interview, Biden reaffirmed that Washington adhered to the "One China" policy and did not back Taiwanese independence. Beijing, not Taipei, is the officially recognized capital of China.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taipei last month raised tensions between Beijing and Washington about Taiwan. Regarding Pelosi's visit, China warned the US was "playing with fire" and started military exercises all around the island, which it claims as its own.
Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu told DW earlier this month that China has been outlining its plans for an invasion of the island. The transfer of anti-ship and air-to-air missiles as well as a radar monitoring system to Taiwan was approved by the US State Department on September 2 for a potential $1.1 billion (€1.1 billion) arms transaction. Congress enacted a law requiring the US to provide Taiwan with military supplies.