President Biden said Monday the U.S. would get involved militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, a blunt statement that went beyond the “strategic ambiguity” that previous presidents have employed in talking about the island nation that Beijing considers a breakaway province.
Mr. Biden offered a frank “yes” when a reporter in Tokyo asked him if the U.S. would intervene militarily.
“That’s the commitment we made,” he said, though the White House quickly clarified that formal U.S. policy remains unchanged.
The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act does not require the U.S. to intervene if China invades. Instead, it calls for America to provide assistance so Taiwan can defend itself.
U.S. presidents typically have tread a narrow line in promoting Taiwan’s right of self-governance without provoking China, a superpower in Asia.
Mr. Biden is using his first presidential tour of Asia to give a tacit signal to China that it should not interfere in Taiwan the way Russia invaded Ukraine.
The White House, in a broad statement on the Japan visit, said U.S. policy toward Taiwan will remain the same despite Mr. Biden’s remarks, which came in a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden stated that their basic positions on Taiwan remain unchanged, and reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element in security and prosperity in the international community,” a White House statement said. “They encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues.”