President Joe Biden said the US military would intervene to defend Taiwan in any attack from China, comments that appeared to break from the longstanding US policy of “strategic ambiguity” before they were walked back by White House officials.
Asked during a press briefing on Monday in Tokyo whether the US would be willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan after not doing so in Ukraine, Biden said “yes — it’s a commitment we made.”
“We agree with the One China policy, we signed onto it and all the attendant agreements made from there,” Biden added. “But the idea that — that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not — it’s just not appropriate. It will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.”
“It’s a burden that’s even stronger,” he added.
Earlier in the briefing, Biden had said that US policy toward Taiwan “has not changed at all.” A White House spokeswoman repeated that comment after Biden’s remarks, saying the president reiterated the US’s “One China Policy” and its commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.
White House officials later said that Biden simply meant the US would provide military equipment to Taiwan, not send troops to defend the island if China attacks, which would constitute a landmark shift in policy.