U.S. President Joe Biden says American forces would defend Taiwan if China invaded the island.
Biden spoke in answer to a question from a reporter on the American television news program 60 Minutes. The reporter asked if the U.S. would deploy troops to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion. Biden answered “yes.”
Biden’s position on the issue appears to go beyond long-standing U.S. policy on Taiwan. Tensions between Taiwan and China have been increasing in recent months.
China considers Taiwan a rebel territory. Chinese officials have said the government plans to one day reclaim the territory and would use force to do so if necessary. Taiwan rejects Beijing’s territorial claims.
The U.S. has long observed what it calls a “one-China policy.” Under this policy, the U.S. recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing. But the U.S. keeps informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan. American law states that based on this relationship, the U.S. is required to assist Taiwan in defending itself.
However, the U.S. has not been so explicit about how that assistance would or could be provided. Biden is the first to publicly say American troops would defend Taiwan from China.
When asked for a reaction to Biden’s latest statement, a White House spokesperson said the U.S. policy toward 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.
China’s government criticized Biden’s statement. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing that the comments sent a "seriously wrong signal" to those seeking independence for Taiwan.
China was "strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed" to Biden's statement, Mao said. The spokesperson said China’s opposition had been officially registered with U.S. officials. She warned that China also has the right to take necessary measures to counter any separatist activities related to Taiwan.
American officials have said the U.S. government does not support official independence for Taiwan. Biden repeated this position in Sunday’s broadcast. “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence,” he said. “We’re not encouraging their being independent.”
Taiwan's foreign ministry expressed its thanks to Biden for stating the "U.S. government's rock-solid security commitment to Taiwan." The island will continue to strengthen its self-defense abilities and deepen its close security partnership with the U.S., the ministry said in a statement.
Tensions increased last month after China launched missiles and flew fighter jets in areas surrounding Taiwan to protest a visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
explicit – adj. clear and exact
encourage – v. to talk or behave in a way that gives someone confidence to do something
commitment – n. a promise or strong decision to do something
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