Since Russia invaded Ukraine more than six months ago, Biden had repeatedly stressed that US military forces would not fight Russian troops on Ukrainian soil. Pelley asked Biden if the situation would be different in the event of an attack on Taiwan.
“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, American forces – American men and women – would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?” Pelley asked.
“Yes,” Biden replied.
The interview is the latest of several occasions in which Biden has said the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan militarily should China attack. Each time, White House officials stressed that his remarks did not represent any change in US policy.
A Biden administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue, pointed to comments made by the president in May, when he told reporters that the practice of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan persisted. At the time, he did not specify or explicitly say that he would send American troops to Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
“He also clarified that our policy in Taiwan has not changed,” the official said. “That remains true.”
A State Department official did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
The “60 Minutes” segment erroneously stated that US policy since 1979 has recognized Taiwan as part of China. Under the United States’ “one China policy”, the US government under various administrations has for decades recognized Beijing’s views without taking a position on Taiwan’s sovereignty status.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, which was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the United States agreed to provide Taiwan with weapons to defend itself and “to maintain the ability of the United States to resist any recourse to force or other forms of coercion”. it would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan. The language does not guarantee or exclude the possibility of military intervention, although the United States has long practiced “strategic ambiguity” as to what it would do.
In the “60 Minutes” interview, Biden appeared to refer to the Taiwan Relations Act when asked what Chinese President Xi Jinping should know about Biden’s involvement in Taiwan.
“We’re okay with what we signed a long time ago,” Biden told Pelley. “And that there is a one-China policy, and Taiwan makes its own judgments about its independence. We are not moving — we are not encouraging their independence. It is their decision.
Tensions between the United States and China — as well as between China and Taiwan — have escalated in recent months. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden sent an unofficial delegation of former U.S. defense and national security officials to Taiwan, in a bid to show that the United States’ commitment United to Taiwan “remains rock solid,” an administration official said at the time.
Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traveled with a congressional delegation to Taipei, becoming the first House Speaker to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) l did in 1997. There, the delegation met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Pelosi repeatedly affirmed the United States’ “commitment” and “enduring friendship” with Taiwan.
US lawmakers visit Taiwan after Pelosi trip angers China
The visit angered Beijing. Under the Chinese Communist Party, Beijing has for decades waged a global pressure campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan’s democratically elected government by poaching diplomatic partners and fiercely opposing exchanges between Taipei and foreign officials.
China conducted extensive military exercises near Taiwan before and after Pelosi’s visit, calling them a warning to “provocateurs” who challenge Beijing’s claims on Taiwan. Beijing has also imposed sanctions on Pelosi and his immediate family, canceled military dialogues and suspended climate talks with the United States.
Christian Shepherd contributed to this report.