U.S. President Joe Biden said U.S forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement so far on the issue, something sure to anger Beijing, APA reports citing Reuters.
Asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast on Sunday whether U.S. forces would defend the self-ruled island claimed by China, he replied: "Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack."
Asked to clarify if he meant that unlike in Ukraine, U.S. forces - American men and women - would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, Biden replied: "Yes."
The interview was just the latest time that Biden has appeared to go beyond long-standing stated U.S. policy on Taiwan, but his statement was clearer than previous ones about committing U.S. troops to the defend the island.
The United States has long stuck to a policy of "strategic ambiguity" and not making clear whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.
Asked to comment, a White House spokesperson said U.S. policy towards Taiwan had not changed.
"The President has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year. He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true," the spokesperson said.
The CBS interview with Biden was conducted last week. The president is in Britain for Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Monday.
In May, Biden was asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan and replied: "Yes ... That's the commitment we made."
In the 60 Minutes interview, Biden reiterated the United States did not support Taiwanese independence and remained committed to a "One-China" policy in which Washington officially recognizes Beijing not Taipei.
Biden's remarks are sure to enrage Beijing, which was greatly angered by a visit to Taiwan by U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi in August.
That visit promoted China to conducted its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan and China has protested moves by U.S. lawmakers to advanced legislation that would enhance U.S. military support for Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to bring democratically-governed Taiwan under Beijing's control and has not ruled out the use of force.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from China's embassy in Washington.