Biden: US Forces Would Defend Taiwan in the Event of a Chinese Invasion

President Biden said in an interview that aired Sunday that the U.S. would defend Taiwan should China invade the island.

The interview was recorded at the White House on Thursday with Scott Pelley and aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

In response to host Pelley’s question about what Chinese President Xi Jinping should know about the U.S.’s commitment to Taiwan, Biden said that he agrees with the “One China” policy, which has recognized Taiwan as part of China as U.S. policy since 1979. But “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not — that — that’s their decision.”

Biden added that U.S. forces would defend the island “if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

However, a White House official said after the interview that U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed.

Biden has made the statement more than once in the past, only to have the White House walk the statement back, which also already happened. The United States has an official “One China” policy, but has diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The U.S. officially maintains “strategic ambiguity” on U.S. forces defending Taiwan, however, the Taiwan Relations Act requires the U.S. to help equip Taiwan so that it can defend itself.

The State Department announced a $1.1B sale of military equipment to Taiwan earlier this month, when State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a press briefing that “this package was in the works for some time precisely because we expected it would be needed as China increased its pressure on Taiwan. We have and we will continue to be responsible, steady, and resolute and keep our lines of communication open with Beijing, but also continue to support Taiwan in consistent — in ways that are consistent with our policy.”