Updated Sep 19, 2022 - World

Biden: U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if China's military invaded

Soldiers lower the Taiwanese flag during a ceremony at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. on Thursday, Aug. 4.
Soldiers lower the Taiwanese flag during a ceremony at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, in August. Photo: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden again vowed in an interview Sunday that American forces would defend Taiwan if China's military invaded the self-governing island — prompting the White House to stress that U.S. policy hasn't changed on the matter.

Driving the news: Biden said during an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" airing Sunday that U.S. forces would defend the democratically run island "if in fact there was an unprecedented attack."

  • A White House official said after the interview that the U.S. government's long-running policy of "strategic ambiguity" on Taiwan had not changed, per CBS News.

The big picture: Biden has on several occasions said American forces would defend Taiwan from a Chinese military attack.

  • Each time, White House officials stressed that U.S. policy that considers Taiwan as part of "one China" hadn't changed.

Context: Under this policy, the U.S. opposes any attempts to change the island's self-governing, democratic status by force.

Worth noting: Biden emphasized during his "60 Minutes" interview, recorded before he flew to the U.K. to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, that his administration agreed with the long-standing U.S. "one-China" policy.

  • "Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence," he said. "We're not encouraging their being independent."

What they're saying: "The President has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year," a White House spokesperson said in a statement to news outlets. "He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn't changed. That remains true."

Meanwhile, Taipei's Foreign Ministry thanked Biden, emphasizing the "U.S. government's rock-solid security commitment to Taiwan," per Reuters.

State of play: China's ruling Communist Party did not immediately respond to Biden's comments, but tensions between Beijing and Washington have been heightened since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last month.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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