United States President Joe Biden on Sunday said that the country’s Army will defend Taiwan if China invades it, reported Reuters.

Beijing considers Taiwan, a self-ruled island, as a province that is to be unified with the Chinese mainland.

The US has maintained a diplomatic stance over China-Taiwan ties. On one hand, it acknowledges that there is only one Chinese government under the One China policy. On the other hand, the US maintains close relations with Taiwan and provides it with arms under the Taiwan Relations Act.

On Sunday, during the broadcast of CBS 60 Minutes, Biden said that Taiwan makes its judgements about its independence. “We are not moving – we are not encouraging their being independent,” he said. “We are not – that – that’s their decision.”

However, he clarified that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” Biden said.

Since 2010, the US has sold military equipment worth $35 billion (Rs 2.78 lakh crore) to Taiwan, US State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a press briefing on September 6. Earlier this month, the US announced sale of a $1.1 billion-worth (Rs 87,000 crore) military equipment to Taiwan, which was opposed by China.

Chinese Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu had said that the deal “undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests by selling arms to the Taiwan region.”

Biden’s statement on Sunday came a month after United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. It was the first time in 25 years that one of the highest-ranking American officials had visited the country.

Responding to Pelosi’s visit the Chinese foreign ministry had said that Beijing will take “all the necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The Chinese Army had conducted live-fire drills in six regions surrounding Taiwan from August 4 to August 6, two days after Pelosi’s visit.