Biden says US forces would protect Taiwan from Chinese invasion – Nexus News

United States President Joe Biden has disclosed that the US forces would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, the strongest indication yet of a shift away from Washington’s decades-long policy of strategic ambiguity towards the island democracy.

Questioned in a television interview if the US military would defend the self-ruled island if China invaded, Biden stated that it would if there “was an unprecedented attack.”

Asked to explain further, Biden acknowledged that US personnel would come to the defense of Taiwan, unlike in Ukraine, which Washington has given material support and military equipment to defend Russia without committing American troops.

Biden’s remarks are his latest to cast doubt on longstanding US policy towards Taiwan enshrined in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which commits Washington to help Taipei protect itself but stops short of pledging to provide troops or directly participate in any conflict.

During a trip to Japan in May, Biden seemed to confirm that he would use force to protect Taiwan if it was attacked by China, portraying the defense of the island as a “commitment we made”.

While many observers have taken Biden’s comments as signaling the end of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan, White House officials have continuously emphasized that US policy towards the island remains unchanged.

A White House spokesperson stated that the US policy had not changed despite Biden’s latest comment.

“The president has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year,” the spokesperson said. “He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true.”

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In his interview with US television network CBS’ 60 Minutes, Biden emphasized that Washington does not support Taiwanese independence and is dedicated to the “One-China” policy, under which the US officially recognizes Beijing but not Taipei.

Despite not officially accepting Taipei, Washington has been among Taiwan’s strongest international supporters. Earlier this month, the US State Department approved the sale of $1.1bn in weaponry to Taiwan, while a Senate committee voted to advance legislation that would provide an additional $4.5bn in security assistance and enforce sanctions on Beijing for any attempt to invade the island by force.

China claims Taiwan as a province that must be “reunified” with the mainland, by force if necessary, and has blamed the US for interrupting regional stability and encouraging Taiwanese separatism.

After Biden’s comments in May, China’s foreign ministry cautioned that “no one should underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will and strong ability of the Chinese people in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Matthew Kroenig, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, noted that Biden’s stance on defending Taiwan was “crystal clear”.

“As long as he is president, US policy is to defend Taiwan. This is the right policy as it contributes to the deterrence of China and helps to guide US military planning,” Kroenig told Al Jazeera.

“I do think America has the stomach for that fight. Hitler and imperial Japan bet that America didn’t have the stomach for a fight in the run-up to WWII. How did that turn out for them? Washington has a huge strategic interest in maintaining peace and stability, and a free and open order, in the Indo-Pacific.”

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