Biden says US forces would defend Taiwan against ‘unprecedented attack’

President Biden
Greg Nash
President Biden gives a keynote speech at the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, September 15, 2022.

President Biden said U.S. forces would defend Taiwan against an “unprecedented attack” in a new interview aired Sunday, his latest comments suggesting the U.S. might engage militarily in response to Chinese aggression against the self-governing island.

When asked in a “60 Minutes” interview if U.S. forces would defend Taiwan amid threats of a Chinese invasion, Biden answered, “Yes.”

After CBS’s Scott Pelley asked specifically if American men and women would defend Taiwan, Biden again answered in the affirmative.

“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” the president said.

The White House said in a statement to The Hill that his sentiment was nothing new.

“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.

Biden drew Beijing’s ire in May when he said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded.

“That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said at the time. “Look, here’s the situation. We agree with the ‘One China’ policy … but the idea that to be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not appropriate.”

The U.S. has long expressed “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, avoiding any clear position on the island’s status but accepting the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as representing all of China.

Biden also told Pelley the U.S. agrees “with what we signed onto a long time ago,” referencing the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which commits the U.S. to providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

“There’s One China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence,” the president said. “We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. … That’s their decision.”

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which is independently governed, and has lashed out at recent shows of U.S. support for the island, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) trip to Taipei last month.

Pelosi became the highest-ranking American official to visit the country since 1997, but her visit prompted unprecedented Chinese military drills, including missiles launched over Taiwan.

The Hill has reached out to the Chinese Embassy in Washington for comment on Biden’s remarks.

U.S. officials have warned that between now and 2030, there remains an acute Chinese threat against Taipei.

Congress is currently debating changes to U.S. policy on Taiwan, including whether to pass legislation authorizing $4.5 billion in military spending for Taiwan over four years.

Biden asked Congress this month to approve more than $1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

Tags 60 Minutes Biden Biden CBS China Taiwan unprecedented attack
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