Biden: U.S. Would Defend Taiwan From ‘Unprecedented Attack’

U.S. military forces would defend Taiwan if there was “an unprecedented attack,” President Joe Biden said, underscoring America’s commitment to the island as Chinese incursions mount near its shores.

Biden, speaking in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday, distanced himself from the question of whether Taiwan is or should be independent, but followed up with a pledge when asked by interviewer Scott Pelley if U.S. forces would “defend the island.”

“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” he replied, according to a transcript provided by the broadcaster. Still, he reiterated earlier in the interview that the U.S.’s “One China policy” had not changed.

Learn more President Biden’s Vow To Defend Taiwan Is Bold but Incredibly Risky

“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago. And that there’s One China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent,” he said. “That’s their decision.”

Biden has made similar statements before, spurring outrage in Beijing by adding new chapters to Washington’s longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to Taiwan. In May, Biden said “yes” when asked if the U.S. was prepared to become “involved militarily” if it had to. “That’s the commitment we made,” he said then, before White House officials walked back his comments.

Taiwanese soldiers carry artillery to tanks during a two-day, live-fire drill, amid intensifying military threats from China, in Pingtung county, Taiwan, Sept. 7, 2022. (Ceng Shou Yi—NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Two-day live-fire drill in which Taiwanese troops carry artillery and tanks, took place Sept. 7-2022 at Pingtung county (Taiwan). This occurred amid growing military threats by China.

Ceng Shou Yi—NurPhoto/Getty Images

An American official claimed that Biden has made the same points in the past and reiterated that U.S. policy had not changed. The official was responding to the “60 Minutes” interview on condition of anonymity.

After Biden’s initial remarks in May, tensions have flared with China after Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker visited Taiwan to show support for its government as well as for democratic principles. The White House tried to control the possible fallout of the trip, during which China renewed its missile launches and military exercises in the Strait of Taiwan.

Learn more Pelosi Leaves Taiwan With the Island—and World—in a More Precarious Position

U.S. officials announced another round this month of arms sales to Taiwan, amounting to more than $1 million. “We’ve been adamant about being committed to Taiwan’s self-defense and moving that forward,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week.

On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill to strengthen ties with Taiwan. It also gave Taiwan more military hardware in order to prevent a Chinese invasion. However, it will still need to be addressed by the White House if it is to become law.

Ukraine: War

Biden reiterated U.S. financial commitments to Ukraine, saying the support will continue “as long as it takes.”

More than $15 billion in U.S. aid has been given to President Volodymyr Zeleskiy. Biden also pledged $600 millions of additional weaponry for this month. Following recent successes in Kharkiv (and other regions), the Ukrainian President renewed Sunday his promise to seize all Russian-controlled territory.

Asked whether Ukraine is winning, Biden said it’s “not losing the war” though the carnage and destruction make it “hard to count that as winning.”

Learn more In the Historical Mission to Offer Aid and Arms To Ukraine

He warned President Vladimir Putin of a “consequential” response if Russia were to use chemical or tactical nuclear weapons in its war.

“It’ll be consequential,” Biden said. “They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been. And depending on the extent of what they do will determine what response would occur.”

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