President Biden vowed to defend Taiwan against a potential invasion by China, prompting harsh pushback from the communist government on Monday.
Biden simply replied “yes” when asked during an interview on CBS News’s “60 Minutes” whether “U.S. forces, U.S. men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”
The remark bolstered official American support for the self-ruled island democracy that China views as a renegade breakaway province.
China’s foreign ministry said it “strongly deplores and rejects” the remarks and has made solemn complaints with the U.S. side.”
The White House insists Biden’s commitment does not amount to a change in official U.S. policy that says Taiwan’s status must be resolved peacefully and doesn’t explicitly say that U.S. forces would defend it.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government is chafing over what it sees as provocative visits to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers.
China’s military sought to retaliate by firing missiles into the nearby sea and dispatching fighter jets toward the island.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the Communist Party in control of the mainland and right wing nationalists in charge of the island.
The two governments both claim to be the leaders of the entire Chinese nation.
Mainland China has persuaded most foreign governments to switch official recognition to Beijing, though many maintain informal ties have extensive trade and investment relations with Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed “sincere gratitude” to Biden for “affirming the U.S. government’s rock-solid promise of security to Taiwan.”
Washington is obligated by federal law to see that Taiwan has the means to defend itself but doesn’t say whether U.S. forces would be sent. The United States has no formal relations with the island but maintains informal diplomatic ties.
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