Even before U.S. President Joe Biden traveled to Tokyo this week to strengthen a partnership with Australia, India and Japan, the alliance was struggling to present a united front, as India refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now, with remarks that Biden made about Taiwan on Monday, the Indo-Pacific bloc is facing another unexpected complication. On the eve of a summit of the four nations, Biden said he would defend the democratic island militarily if it were invaded by China, sending shock waves around the globe and placing the allies in a tricky position as they seek to avoid further antagonizing Beijing.

On Tuesday in Tokyo, Biden sought to temper his comments. Standing alongside the three other leaders of the grouping known as "the Quad," he said his administration had not abandoned the "strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan long embraced by the United States. Asked if he would send in troops if China attacked Taiwan, Biden said, "The policy has not changed at all.”