American presidents have spent decades trying to sidestep the question of how forcefully the United States would come to the aid of Taiwan if China invaded it or, more likely, tried to slowly strangle the island in an effort to force it back under the control of the mainland.

The American policy — called "strategic ambiguity” because it leaves vague exactly how the United States would react — does not lend itself to a tough-sounding response. So the White House was quick to declare that American policy had not changed after President Joe Biden was asked at a CNN town hall event on Thursday night whether the United States would protect Taiwan and he said, "Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

"The president was not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy,” a White House statement read.