U.S. President Joe Biden said that America will defend Taiwan if it comes under attack from China.
Speaking at a CNN town hall on Oct. 22 (Singapore time), Biden was asked twice if the U.S. would respond if China attacked Taiwan.
He replied, "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."
Biden worried about unintentional escalation
CNN reported that Biden is "not worried" about "intentional military conflict" with China, but suggested that he was worried about an unintentional escalation.
"China, Russia and the rest of the world know we have the most powerful military in (the) history of the world. Don't worry about whether they're going to be more powerful...But you do have to worry about whether or not they're going to engage in activities (that) put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake."
Biden also said he wasn't looking to enter a prolonged conflict.
While he wasn't looking for a "new Cold War", he said he wanted to make clear that the U.S. is not going to "step back" and change their views, and cited his efforts to engage Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"I have spoken and spent more time with Xi Jinping than any other world leader has. That's why you hear people saying Biden wants to start a new cold war with China. I don't want a cold war with China. I want China to understand that we are not going to step back and change any of our views."
White House official clarifies U.S. stance on Taiwan
Following the town hall, a White House official said Biden did not announce a change in policy, and there was no change in U.S. policy with regards to Taiwan.
"The U.S. defence relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the act, we will continue to support Taiwan's self-defence, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo."
The U.S. has the "One China" policy, a diplomatic acknowledgement of China's claim to Taiwan.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and part of its sovereign territory. Xi has not ruled out the use of force to make Taiwan submit.
In recent weeks, China has ramped up incursions of military aircraft into Taiwan's air defence identification zone, leading to Taiwan scrambling its own jets. Such escalation of tensions has been referred to by one Taiwanese diplomat as a campaign of attrition that's meant to wear down the island's defences.
Top image via CNN/YouTube
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