US President Joe Biden says America will defend Taiwan if China attacks

The US will defend Taiwan if China attacked, Joe Biden has said in an apparent shift in long-standing policy.

The president said America had “a commitment” to go to the aid of the island, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure by Beijing, which stakes a territorial claim.

However, the White House later said there had been no change in stance.

Washington has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

But asked at a town hall meeting if the US would get involved, Mr Biden said: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

Back in August, an administration official was forced to insist that American policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the US would defend the island in the face of aggression.

Following Mr Biden’s latest comments, a spokesman said: “We will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defence, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.”

Responding to Mr Biden’s statement, Taiwan’s presidential office said its position was unchanged and remains the same and would neither give in to pressure nor “rashly advance” when it gets support.

“Taiwan will show a firm determination to defend itself,” said presidential office spokesperson Xavier Chang, who also noted the Biden administration’s continued “rock-solid” support.

Mr Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world”.

He added: “What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake.

“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”

Tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, pointing out Beijing would be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.

China has criticised what it branded “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.

The country’s ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said Beijing was pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan.

He said: “We are not the troublemaker.

“On the contrary, some countries – the US in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction.

“Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest.”

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