U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday while the country remains committed to its “one China” policy, it will continue to help Taiwan defend itself.

Austin made the comments to reporters following NATO’s defense ministerial meetings at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, and was asked if the United States would defend Taiwan if attacked by China.

Austin told a reporter he did not want to deal in hypotheticals and added, “nobody wants to see cross-strait issues come to blows, and certainly not (U.S.) President (Joe) Biden, and there’s no reason that it should.” He also said the U.S. stands by its commitment to the “one China” policy, recognizing Beijing governs all of China.

Per previous administrations, he added, the U.S. will continue to help Taiwan with capabilities that it needs to defend itself, and “we’ll stay focused on those things.”

Austin was echoing comments made late Thursday by U.S. President Joe Biden, who said during a televised meeting on U.S. cable news channel CNN, the U.S. is committed to defending Taiwan if attacked by China.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters Friday there is no room for compromise on the issue of Taiwan, that it is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and on that issue, there is no room for foreign intervention. He urged the United States to adhere to its “one China” policy, or risk destabilizing the region.

China has raised tensions in the region in recent weeks by flying warplanes within Taiwan’s defense zone and rehearsing beach landings nearby.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. 


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