President Joe Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked, in apparent departure from long-standing policy.
“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” he said when asked at a town hall whether the United States would defend Taiwan.
But a White House spokesperson later told some US media that his remarks did not mean a change in policy.
The United States has long practiced “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to the thorny issue of Taiwan’s defense.
This meant that the US was deliberately ambiguous about what it would do if China attacked the island.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, which could recover by force one day if necessary, while Taiwan claims to be a sovereign state.
The United States has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but sells it weapons as part of the Taiwan Relations Act, which states that the United States must help the island defend itself.
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The tension between the two has increased in the last few weeks since Beijing flew dozens of warplanes into the Taiwan air defense zone.
Biden added that he was not worried about an intentional conflict with China, and said there was no need to “worry that they will become more powerful” because “China, Russia and the rest of the world know that we are the most powerful military in the world. history of the world “.
“What you have to worry about is whether they are or not [China] they would engage in activities that would put them in a position where they could make a serious mistake, “he said.
When questioned a second time by CNN’s Anderson’s Cooper about whether the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an attack by China, Biden again replied in the affirmative.
A White House spokesperson later attempted to clarify Biden’s comments to the US media, stating that the US “was not announcing any changes in our policy and there is no change in our policy.”
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