South Korea would expect the United States to intervene militarily if China were to attack Taiwan, a South Korean official told a group of reporters, Axios reported Monday.
The comment came during a briefing with a small group of reporters about the new South Korean administration’s foreign policy, according to Axios, which was part of the group. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Communist China has become increasingly aggressive in its threats against self-governing Taiwan, which mainland China claims is its territory.
Many observers believe China has been watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a test of the waters to see how the United States might respond to an invasion of Taiwan.
The South Korean official told reporters China does not pose a direct “threat” to South Korea, but does pose security “risks” and any incident in the Taiwan Strait could heighten the threat.
When asked by an Axios reporter whether Seoul would want the United States to respond to an invasion, the official said South Korea was “more comfortable” with the idea America would respond, admitting it would likely lead to a request for U.S. and Japanese military support.
The official would not tell reporters whether South Korea would be willing to send troops.
A big reason for South Korea’s concern about Taiwan is its own aggressive neighbor, North Korea.
“We probably take for granted that if China attacks Taiwan, the U.S. will engage,” the official said, noting if the United States stood aside over an attack on Taiwan, it likely would do the same if North Korea attacked South Korea.
But official U.S. policy has long been “One China” to appease the Communist Chinese leadership that refuses to deal diplomatically or otherwise with countries or entities that recognize Taiwan independence. The United States has no treaty with Taiwan to come to its defense.
Nevertheless, President Joe Biden has three times stated the United States would defend Taiwan, only to have the White House walk the statements back, saying U.S. policy has not changed.