US President Joe Biden has reiterated that Washington will defend Taiwan in the event of an “unprecedented attack” by China.
During a CBS News interview on Sunday, Biden was asked “what should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan?”, to which the President replied: “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.
“We are not moving, we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not… That’s their decision.”
To the next query if US forces would defend the island, Biden said: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack…”
Shortly after Biden made the remarks, the White House said that “our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed”, clearing the notion that the US policy since 1979 to recognise Taiwan as part of China remained unchanged.
“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 BBC quoted the White House as saying on Sunday evening.
Under the policy, the US does not recognise it as a separate state and has no diplomatic ties with the island.
But it maintains close relations and sells arms to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, which states that Washington must provide the island with the means to defend itself.
Tensions flared between the US and China after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an unannounced visit to Taiwan on August 2.
In response, China staged a five-day military blockade around Taiwan.