White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to say whether the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded Friday, rolling back a more blunt defense commitment President Joe Biden made during Thursday night’s CNN town hall.
Psaki clarified that Biden’s Thursday comments were not intended to announce a change in policy, and she refused to say whether the U.S. was committed to a military intervention should China invade Taiwan despite questions from multiple reporters. Biden had stated at CNN’s town hall that the U.S. has a “commitment” to defend Taiwan.
Referencing Biden’s apparent commitment, a reporter asked Psaki whether there was a change in U.S. policy as it relates to Taiwan. (RELATED: US Military Says Chinese Attack On Taiwan Accelerating As Taiwan Threatens War ‘To The Very Last Day’)
“There has been no shift. The president was not announcing a change in our policy, nor has he made a decision to change our policy. There is no change in our policy,” Psaki said. “Our defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act.”
“Some of the principles of the Taiwan Relations Act that the United States will continue to abide by, of course, is assisting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self defense capability. Another principle is that the United States would regard any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means a threat to the peace and security of the western Pacific and of grave concern to the United States,” she added.
Psaki then added that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated Friday that there was “no reason” cross-strait relations between Taiwan and China should “come to blows.”
Another reporter then pressed Psaki on what specific military measures the U.S. would consider taking in defense of Taiwan.
“When the president says that the U.S. has a commitment to protect Taiwan, does that commitment include military intervention in the event of a Chinese attack?” the reporter asked.
Psaki dodged the question, instead reiterating that Biden’s statement did not constitute a change in policy nor an intention to change any policy.
“So can you just remind us, that policy is: no, there would not be military intervention?” the reporter pressed.
“Our policy is to be guided by the Taiwan Relations Act,” Psaki repeated.
Biden had appeared to affirm America’s commitment to defend Taiwan should China invade on Thursday evening. The Chinese military has grown increasingly bold in its stance toward Taiwan in recent weeks, sending a record-breaking 52 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone in early October.
“Militarily — China, Russia and the rest of the world knows — we have the most powerful military in the history of the world. Don’t worry about whether they’re gonna be more powerful,” Biden said in response to an audience question. “But you do have to worry about whether they’re going to engage in activities that will put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake.”
CNN host Anderson Cooper then interjected, asking whether Biden would commit to defending Taiwan. (RELATED: US Military Says Chinese Attack On Taiwan Accelerating As Taiwan Threatens War ‘To The Very Last Day’)
“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said.