US President Joe Biden has said US forces will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion – his strongest words yet on the issue.

Asked in a television interview whether America would defend the self-governing island claimed by China, he replied bluntly: “Yes, if in fact there was an attack without precedent”.

The United States has long stuck to a policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ and has not said whether it will react
militarily, to an attack.

Asked if he meant that, unlike Ukraine, US forces would defend Taiwan from Chinese invasion, Mr Biden again answered: “Yes.”

The CBS 60 Minutes interview showed that a president seemed to go beyond longstanding American policy on Taiwanwhich spells out a commitment to a one-China policy, in which Washington officially recognizes Beijing and not Taipei.

Biden’s remarks are sure to anger Beijing, which has been enraged by a visit to Taiwan by the US House Speaker Nancy
pelosi
back in August.

The visit prompted China to conduct its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan.

Analysis: Pelosi’s visit may be wasteful and unnecessary as China and US seek to avoid war in Taiwan

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to place democratically-ruled Taiwan under Beijing’s control and has
not rule out the use of force.

Image:
Joe Biden spoke virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping last year

In a phone call with Mr Biden in July, Xi warned against playing with fire on the island, saying “those who play with fire will perish”.

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Asked last October if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, the president replied: “Yes, we are committed to doing so”, but a spokesman for the White House said he was not announcing in fact no change in US policy. – and some pundits denounced the comment as a “goof”.

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