top of page

The Lowdown Hub

US pledges to defend Taiwan against China

US pledges to defend Taiwan against China President Biden signaled on Monday that he would use military force to defend Taiwan if it were ever attacked by China, dispensing with the “strategic ambiguity” traditionally favored by American presidents, and drawing a firmer line at a time of rising tensions in the region. At a news conference during a visit to Japan, Mr. Biden suggested that he would be willing to go further on behalf of Taiwan than he has in helping Ukraine, where he has provided tens of billions of dollars in weapons as well as intelligence assistance to help defeat Russian invaders but has refused to send American troops. “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons,” a reporter said to Mr. Biden. “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” “Yes,” Mr. Biden answered flatly. “You are?” the reporter followed up. “That’s the commitment we made,” he said. The president’s declaration, offered without caveat or clarification, set the stage for fresh tensions between the United States and China, which insists that Taiwan is a part of its territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation. It also surprised some members of Mr. Biden’s own administration watching in the room, who did not expect him to promise such unvarnished resolve. The United States has historically warned China against using force against Taiwan while generally remaining vague about how far it would go to aid the island in such a circumstance. The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying. “As the president said, our policy has not changed,” the White House said in a statement hurriedly sent to reporters. “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.” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III sounded the same themes when asked by reporters back in Washington. “I think the president was clear on the fact that the policy has not changed,” he said.