The U.S. would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, according to President Joe Biden. The U.S. government has an "obligation" to do so, Biden told CNN TV Thursday night (local time). Biden said not to worry about Washington's military strength because China, Russia, and the rest of the world know that the U.S. is the strongest military in the world. "I don't want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we are not going to back down and change our views," the U.S. president said.
The communist leadership in Beijing regards Taiwan as part of the People's Republic and threatens to conquer it. The U.S. has committed itself to Taiwan's ability to defend itself - which up to now has mainly meant supplying weapons. The question of military assistance in the event of an attack has usually been deliberately left open.
After a citizen's question on the topic, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper hammered away at Baltimore's Town Hall and asked Biden, referring to China, "Are you saying the United States would defend Taiwan if it tried to attack?" Biden responded by saying, "Yes, we have an obligation to do that."
Such a declaration of military support by the U.S. in Asia has so far been reserved for its close allies Japan and South Korea, where U.S. forces also have a significant military presence. Recently, tensions around Taiwan had increased significantly.
A record number of Chinese military aircraft had repeatedly entered Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) to test its air defenses. Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their highest in more than 40 years, according to Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng.Beijing regards Taiwan, which seceded from China in 1949, as a renegade province that should be reunited with the mainland - by military force if necessary. China's President Xi Jinping had recently reiterated China's claim to reunification with Taiwan.
China and the U.S. are at odds over many issues. But the Taiwan issue is seen as the point of contention most likely to trigger an armed confrontation between the world's two largest economies. The incoming new U.S. ambassador to Beijing, career diplomat Nicholas Burns, said Wednesday that China is not to be trusted on Taiwan. In a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must confirm his nomination, Burns recommended selling more weapons to Taipei to bolster its defenses.