The Pentagon's chief says the United States will continue to help Chinese Taipei with resources and capabilities, including potent military hardware, even though it acknowledges China's sovereignty over the self-ruled island.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that the administration of President Joe Biden remained "committed to the one-China policy" but that the policy did not prevent it from providing aid to Taipei.
Echoing comments made by Biden earlier, Austin said, "As we've done over multiple administrations, we will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself."
"And so, we'll stay focused on those things. And I won't engage in any hypotheticals with respect to Taiwan," Austin added.
China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the "One China" policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to unnerve Beijing.
Earlier, when asked at a CNN town hall if the United States would come to the defense of Chinese Taipei, Biden said, "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."
Later on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Taipei "is an inalienable part of China's territory" and "purely China's internal affair, and no external interference is allowed."
Wang said no one should underestimate the Chinese people's determination to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The United States, which backs Taipei's secessionist president, also sells weapons to the island in defiance of Beijing and in violation of its own official policy.