In an interview Sunday with Scott Pelley on CBS “60 Minutes,” Joe Biden reaffirmed that the United States will defend Taiwan if China decides to invade. When asked directly, “Would US forces defend the island?” Biden answered, “Yes, if, in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.” Biden’s comment contradicts Washington’s longstanding “One China” policy which does not directly support Taiwan’s political independence from China.
In the wake of Biden’s comments, the White House rushed to clarify his declaration by stating, “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.”
This is not the first of Biden’s missteps regarding the building tension between Taiwan and China. In May of this year, Biden answered the question of whether or not the U.S. would intervene if China invaded Taiwan by saying, “Yes…that’s the commitment we made” when in fact no commitment had been made, leading the White House to walk back that statement as well.
Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry was quick to respond to the comments with a statement from spokesperson Mao Ning stating, “We are willing to do our best to strive for peaceful reunification. At the same time, we will not tolerate any activities aimed at secession.” There is concern that Biden’s perceived change of policy regarding Taiwan will escalate PLA military pressure on Taiwan. There is a bill currently in the Senate to upgrade the U.S. Taiwan policy but Beijing has already warned against it.
China still continues to buzz Taiwan daily with military aircraft. Taipei detected 20 aircraft and 5 ships in the region on Monday.