President Joe Biden on Monday said that the United States would defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China before aides tried to walk back his comments, The New York Times reports.
Biden during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would be willing to go further to defend Taiwan than his administration has for Ukraine.
“You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons,” a reporter said to Biden. “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”
“Yes,” Biden replied.
“You are?” the reporter pressed.
“That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said.
White House walkback:
The White House quickly denied that the comments marked a departure from the United States’ longstanding “strategic ambiguity” policy.
“As the president said, our policy has not changed,” the White House said in a statement. “He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
Biden’s comments went beyond simply reiterating that the U.S. would provide Taiwan with weaponry.
“The idea that that can be taken by force, just taken by force, it’s just not appropriate,” he said of Taiwan. “It would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it’s a burden that is even stronger.”