The President of the United States said on Thursday that the country is prepared to militarily defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China, which considers the island part of its territory.
“Yes, we have a commitment in this regard”, declared Joe Biden, during a meeting, broadcast by the television network CNN, with voters in Baltimore.
The White House told media that US policy toward Taiwan “has not changed” following Biden’s statements on Thursday.
At two largest economies in the world they oppose head-on on many issues, but the Taiwanese issue is often seen as the only one capable of triggering an armed confrontation.
On Wednesday, the next US ambassador to Beijing, the career diplomat Nicholas Burns, said that China “is not to be trusted” over Taiwan, and recommended increasing arms sales to the island to bolster defenses.
Burns was speaking to the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, which is expected to confirm the appointment of the diplomat, who had already denounced recent Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s air identification zone as “reprehensible”.
The United States has recognized the People’s Republic of China since 1979, but provides arms to Taiwan for the defense of the island.
The island has been autonomously governed since 1949, when the nationalist forces of the Kuomintang took refuge there after being defeated by the communist troops who founded the People’s Republic of China on the mainland.
Beijing considers Taiwan one of its provinces and has threatened to resort to force if the island formally proclaims independence.
However, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, recently affirmed the will to achieve a peaceful reunification.