Joe Biden appeared to depart from a long-held US foreign policy position as he vowed to defend Taiwan. He said that the US would come to Taiwan’s aid if China attempted to invade the island. At CNN Town Hall in Baltimore last night, a student asked about recent reports that China had tested a hypersonic missile.
The student also asked the US President if he could “vow to protect Taiwan”, and what he would do to keep up with China’s military might.
Mr Biden swiftly responded: “Yes and yes.”
He added there was no need to “worry about whether they’re going to be more powerful”, because “China, Russia and the rest of the world know we are the most powerful military in the history of the world”.
The US President added: “What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake.”
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When pressed by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on whether the US would come to Taiwan’s defence in the event of an attack by China, Mr Biden replied: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”
This marks a significant departure from US policy of strategic ambiguity,” where it is deliberately vague about what it would actually do if China were to attack Taiwan.
A White House spokesperson later appeared to walk back President Biden’s comments, telling US media outlets that the US was “not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy”.
A spokesperson added: “The US defence relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act.
Tensions have flared in recent weeks after Beijing flew dozens of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence zone.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory while Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.
President Biden also said on Thursday that he did not want war with China.
He said: “I don’t want a cold war with China.
“I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”