President Joe Biden declared in a television interview that U.S. armed forces will defend Taiwan in case of an unprecedented invasion by China, contradicting official U.S. policy.
In a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday night, Biden was asked about Taiwan and China by CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley, “What should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan?”
In response, Biden confirmed the One China policy, but stated, “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent.” According to the president, the decision of independence belongs to the island.
Upon being asked whether U.S. Forces would defend Taiwan, Biden answered with an unfaltering “yes,” confirming that the U.S. would defend Taiwan “in the event of a Chinese invasion.”
However, the president’s response differs from the official statement given by the White House, which stated, “The U.S. policy has not changed. Officially, the U.S. will not say whether American forces will defend Taiwan, but the Commander in Chief has a view of his own.”
Biden has previously made similar statements regarding Taiwan, adding to the heightening tensions between Beijing and Washington, which maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity.” The president’s administration has also shown support in the form of two U.S. Navy cruisers and a confirmed $1.1 billion weaponry package for Taiwan. The tensions came to a new high with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, which spurred additional lawmaker delegations visiting the island.
In response to Biden’s recent interview, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated, “China reserves the right to take all necessary measures in response to activities that split the nation apart […] We will not tolerate any activities aimed at secession.”
Regarding Taiwan, she discouraged the U.S. from sending the “wrong signals,” stating that the country should “fully understand the extremely important and highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan question and abide by the one China principle.”
“There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is part of China, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government of China,” Mao stated according to a transcript by Bloomberg.
Beijing was not the only one to respond to the new interview. In an official statement, Taiwan expressed, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) extends its sincere appreciation to President Biden for once again emphasizing the staunch and rock-solid US security commitment to Taiwan.”
After highlighting China’s recent “provocative military activities,” the statement continued to express their appreciation to the Biden administration and U.S. officials, who have “conveyed support for Taiwan through public statements and concrete actions.”
“In the face of China’s military expansion and provocative actions, the government of Taiwan will continue to strengthen its self-defense capabilities and stand firm against authoritarian expansion and aggression,” the statement concluded.