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Tensions between mainland China and Taiwan spark debate inside Biden admin
02:37 - Source: CNN
Baltimore CNN  — 

President Joe Biden said Thursday the US was committed to coming to Taiwan’s defense if it comes under attack from China -- a stance that seems in opposition to America’s stated policy of “strategic ambiguity.”

Asked twice during CNN’s town hall whether the US would protect Taiwan if China attacked, Biden said it would.

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” he said.

Biden has made similar statements in the past, only to have the White House say longstanding US policy had not changed toward the island. The US provides Taiwan defensive weapons, but has remained intentionally ambiguous on whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.

Under the “One China” Policy, the US acknowledges China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. In recent weeks, Beijing has sent dozens of warplanes near into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), and Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that “reunification” between China and Taiwan was inevitable.

A White House official attempted to clarify Biden’s comments on Taiwan after the town hall, saying the President was “not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy” in his remarks about China and Taiwan.

“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the official said.

Hours after the town hall, China’s foreign ministry warned the United Stated not to send “any wrong signals to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence” Friday.

“China urges the US to strictly abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the China-US Three Joint Communiqués, be cautious in its words and deeds on the Taiwan issue, and refrain from sending any wrong signals to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, so as not to seriously damage China-US relations, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing in Beijing Friday.

However, the Taiwanese were cheered by Biden’s statement, thanking him for his words.

“Our government will continue to strengthen our self-defense capabilities to full defend Taiwan’s democracy… national security and people’s well-being,” a statement from the foreign ministry said Friday.