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Biden says U.S. forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion

World Sep 19, 2022 10:11AM ET
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© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks after signing a condolence book for Britain's Queen Elizabeth, following her death, at Lancaster House in London, Britain, September 18, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By David Brunnstrom and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said U.S forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement on the issue, drawing an angry response from China that said it sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.

Asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast on Sunday whether U.S. forces would defend the democratically governed island claimed by China, he replied: "Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack."

Asked to clarify if he meant that unlike in Ukraine, U.S. forces - American men and women - would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, Biden replied: "Yes."

The CBS interview was just the latest time that Biden has appeared to go beyond long-standing stated U.S. policy on Taiwan, but his statement was clearer than previous ones about committing U.S. troops to the defend the island.

The United States has long stuck to a policy of "strategic ambiguity" and not making clear whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.

Asked to comment, a White House spokesperson said U.S. policy towards Taiwan had not changed.

"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," the spokesperson said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular briefing in Beijing that Biden's comments sent a "seriously wrong signal" to separatists forces for Taiwan independence.

China was "strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed" to Biden's comments and had lodged a formal complaint over it, she said, warning that China reserves the right to take all necessary measures to counter separatism.

Taiwan's foreign ministry expressed its thanks to Biden for his reaffirming of the "U.S. government's rock-solid security commitment to Taiwan".

Taiwan will continue to strengthen its self-defense capabilities and deepen the close security partnership between Taiwan and the United States, the Taiwan ministry said in a statement.

The CBS interview with Biden was conducted last week. The president is in Britain for Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Monday.

'PLAY WITH FIRE'

In May, Biden was asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan and replied https://www.reuters.com/world/biden-meets-japanese-emperor-start-visit-launch-regional-economic-plan-2022-05-23: "Yes ... That's the commitment we made."

In the 60 Minutes interview, Biden reiterated the United States remained committed to a "one-China" policy in which Washington officially recognizes Beijing not Taipei, and said the United States was not encouraging Taiwanese independence.

"We are not moving, we are not encouraging their being independent ... that's their decision," he said.

China was angered by a visit to Taiwan by U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi in August and it conducted its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan in response.

China has protested against moves by U.S. lawmakers to advance legislation that would enhance U.S. military support for Taiwan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control and has not ruled out the use of force. Taiwan strongly objects to China's sovereignty claims.

In a phone call with Biden in July, Xi warned about Taiwan, saying "those who play with fire will perish by it."

Asked last October if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which the United States is required by law to provide with the means to defend itself, Biden said: "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."

At that time, a White House spokesperson also said Biden was not announcing any change in U.S. policy.

Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said if Biden made such pledges he needed to ensure he could back them up.

"If President Biden plans to defend Taiwan, then he should make sure the U.S. military has the capability to do so," she said. "Rhetorical support that isn't backed up by real capabilities is unlikely to strengthen deterrence."

Biden's Asia policy czar, Kurt Campbell, has in the past rejected any move to "strategic clarity" over Taiwan, saying there were "significant downsides" https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/significant-downsides-strategic-clarity-over-taiwan-us-2021-05-04 to such an approach.

Biden says U.S. forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion
 

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Comments (7)
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Sep 19, 2022 2:25AM ET
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if Trump gains power Americans better start learning Chinese....
Yup Tub
Yup Tub Sep 19, 2022 1:53AM ET
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Biden recognizes that China and Taiwan are the same nation but at the same time he says he will defend Taiwan if China invades it: from the Chinese POV it's like someone were told by a stranger that his storage room near his home is his property but he can't enter it otherwise the stranger will fight with him. It's an insane foreign policy.
John Laurens
John Laurens Sep 19, 2022 1:41AM ET
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Hopefully Taiwan already has hyper speed tactical nukes. Most believe they do.
Tom Cur
Tom Cur Sep 19, 2022 12:57AM ET
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Amazing. He empty out our ammunitions sending them to Ukraine and oil reserves to.lower gas prices, How does he think he can win a war against China?
John Laurens
John Laurens Sep 19, 2022 12:57AM ET
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China imports nearly all of their energy... do the math.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Sep 19, 2022 12:57AM ET
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the Chinese have no experience fighting wars the vietnamese gave them a ***noise when they tried to steal territory from them. they may cause a great deal of damage to the US but in the end would lose in a war with the US and its allies. totalitarian states became of their weak political makeup always fail,....they are
Francisco Gonzalez
Francisco Gonzalez Sep 18, 2022 10:35PM ET
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Looks like they are almost trying to get China into action. Would be a lovely war to cover the economic nonsense we are suffering…
Sattar Langary
Sattar Langary Sep 18, 2022 10:16PM ET
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i thought we learned a lesson from Ukraine! Man, we need Trump back in office.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Sep 18, 2022 10:16PM ET
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LOL. Yeah, you've learned a lesson from Ukraine alright.
Edmund Lee
Edmund Lee Sep 18, 2022 8:07PM ET
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This man needs to be impeached today.
Lashawn Williams
Lashawn Williams Sep 18, 2022 8:07PM ET
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why we have and agreement with Taiwan
nick cage
nick cage Sep 18, 2022 8:07PM ET
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what agreement. is it like the one we had with Ukraine? because that wasn't worth anything
Adrian White
Adrian White Sep 18, 2022 8:07PM ET
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There was no agreement with Ukraine, but everybody (except you, apparently) knows that the US has an agreement to defend Taiwan.
 
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