On Sunday, Joe Biden asserted during an interview that American troops would be prepared to defend the island nation of Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, leading to White House officials again walking back his comments shortly thereafter.
As reported by the New York Post, Biden was asked during a “60 Minutes” interview by CBS’ Scott Pelley if the United States would take action to “defend the island” in the event that China decided to invade. A possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan has already been frequently compared to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with the Biden Administration’s response to that conflict being widely criticized.
“[W]ould U.S. forces defend the island?” Pelley asked. In response, Biden said “yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”
“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir — U.S. forces, U.S. men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?” Pelley asked further, to which Biden simply responded “yes.”
But shortly after the interview, a White House official told “60 Minutes” that the U.S. has not changed its approach to Taiwan, and that it would maintain a policy that the administration has called “strategic ambiguity.” The policy calls for refusing to make a clear statement on whether or not military action would be taken in the event of a conflict breaking out, while still supplying Taiwan with military equipment to help them better prepare.
In early September, the State Department announced that it had sold $1.1 billion worth of weapons and military equipment to Taiwan, including anti-ship and air-to-air missiles.
“This package was in the works for some time precisely because we expected it would be needed as China increased its pressure on Taiwan,” said State Department spokesman Vedant Patel after the sale was announced on September 6th. In response, Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy, warned that the deal “severely jeopardizes China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”