The information is reproduced by local media according to which the president seemed to suggest a change in U.S. policy towards Taiwan with his promise to militarily defend the autonomous island in case China attacks it, although a White House official quickly retracted the comments.
The government official, quoted by The Hill newspaper, said the policy has not changed. The president told reporters that Beijing was already “flirting with danger” with its recent decision to conduct military exercises near Taiwan, which China considers its own territory, according to NBC News.
Other media reflected the information from similar angles. The Wall Street Journal: Biden says U.S. would intervene militarily if China invades Taiwan. The Washington Post: Biden adopts an aggressive stance towards China in his trip to Asia.
According to The New York Times, the president’s statement, offered without reservation, surprised some members of his own administration, who did not expect him to offer such a blunt resolution. It also represented a step to protect the island, a historic part of China, which he was unwilling to take when it came to Ukraine.
The U.S. president’s visit also served to launch an initiative for an economic bloc with a dozen Asia-Pacific nations aimed at countering China and reasserting U.S. influence in the region, which has been in decline in recent years.
The so-called Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, will bring the United States together with regional powers such as Japan, South Korea and India, five years after President Trump withdrew Washington from a broad trade deal he had negotiated himself, the Times added.