“The United States’ defense relations with Taiwan are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act,” a White House spokesman said. “We will honor our commitment under the law, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral change in the status quo.”
Biden made a similar comment in August during an interview with ABC News. After the president suggested that the United States would defend the island in the event of an attack, a departure from the United States’ long-standing position, the White House said the president was wrong.
While Washington is required by the Taiwan Relations Act to provide the country with defense resources, it has followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding military intervention to protect Taiwan if China attacks.
The White House has been projecting the message in recent weeks that the United States’ commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid” as tensions rise between the country and China. Earlier this month, China sent dozens of warplanes over Taiwan’s air defense zone. Taiwan condemned the incursions as part of Beijing’s growing military harassment.
China has defended these actions as “fair” and necessary to maintain stability in the region. Beijing still considers Taiwan to be part of its own territory, although the countries broke up in 1949.
The United States does not formally recognize Taiwan, but it maintains an unofficial relationship and supports its democratic government.
A senior Taiwanese security official said this week that the risk of war with China next year was “very low,” according to Reuters.
“I think that, generally, within a year, the probability of a war is very low,” National Security Bureau director general Chen Ming-tong said at a meeting of the parliamentary committee on defense.
“But there are still a lot of things you have to watch out for called contingent events.”
Alex Ward contributed to this report.