Joe Biden has seemingly boosted American support for Taiwan after saying US forces would defend the self-ruled island if China tried to invade it.
The US president said “yes” when asked during an interview broadcast on Sunday on CBS News’s 60 Minutes whether “US forces, US men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion”.
CBS News reported the White House said after the interview that US policy has not changed.
That policy says Washington wants to see Taiwan’s status resolved peacefully but does not say whether US forces might be sent in response to a Chinese attack.
Tensions have risen rising following efforts by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government to intimidate Taiwan by firing missiles into the nearby sea and flying fighter jets close by amid visits to Taipei by political figures including US House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Monday expressed “sincere gratitude” to Mr Biden for “affirming the US government’s rock-solid promise of security to Taiwan”.
Taiwan will “resist authoritarian expansion and aggression” and “deepen the close security partnership” with Washington and other governments “with similar thinking” to protect regional stability, the statement said.
Washington is obligated by federal law to see that Taiwan has the means to defend itself but does not say whether US forces would be sent.