President Joe Biden on Tuesday said Washington’s “strategic ambiguity” policy for Taiwan remains in place, a day after his comment about readiness to defend the island against a Chinese invasion suggested a change.

“No”, Biden told reporters in Tokyo when asked if the policy was now dead. “The policy has not changed at all. I stated that when I made my statement yesterday.”

Joe Biden. File Photo: Adam Schultz, via Flickr.

Biden’s latest declaration followed similar insistence from top US officials that a decades-old approach to Taiwan remains in place. 

This includes arming the democratic island for its own defence, while acknowledging China’s legal sovereignty and expressing “strategic ambiguity” on whether American troops would ever intervene.

The reassurances follow the president’s answer to a question at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday where he said “yes,” when asked if Washington would be willing to get involved militarily in Taiwan’s defence.

Taiwanese military and their fighter jets. Photo: Makoto Lin/Taiwan Presidential Office, via Flickr.

Taiwan, which is self-ruled and has a thriving trade relationship with the United States, welcomed Biden’s apparent expansion of the US commitment, while China reacted angrily, saying Washington was “playing with fire.”

Biden is visiting Tokyo for meetings with leaders from the Quad group, which also includes Australia, India and Japan. He earlier went to South Korea as part of a trip reinforcing key US trade and military alliances in Asia.

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