In a television interview on Sunday, the top US military commander reiterated Washington's displeasure with China's "Anti-Secession" Law, saying that threatening to use force against Taiwan was not in China's interest.
In an interview on NBC News' Meet the Press, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by the show's host, Tim Russert, if the US would intervene in a cross-strait crisis.
"If, in fact, the Chinese invaded or attacked Taiwan, would we defend Taiwan?" Russert asked.
"Well, the president has said, and I think it's the most powerful statement that we can refer to, and that is ... no change of the status quo by force by either side," Myers said.
"So clearly, it's not in anybody's interest to settle this by force," the general said.
On March 14, China's National People's Congress passed the "Anti-Secession" Law, which formally authorizes the use of "non-peaceful means" to unify with Taiwan.
Several countries, notably the US and Japan, have described the law as "unhelpful" and a potentially destabilizing action by the authoritarian regime in Beijing.
Myers ducked a question from Russert on whether US President George W. Bush's previous statement -- that the US would do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan -- still applied.
Reading from a transcript of a 2001 interview with Bush, Russert said:
"Question: `If Taiwan were attacked by China, do we have an obligation to defend the Taiwanese?' Bush: `Yes, we do.' `And you would?' President Bush: `And the Chinese must understand that. Yes, I would.' Question: `With the full force of [the] American military?' President Bush: `Whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself.'"
Russert then asked Myers if that was still US policy.
"That's -- obviously the president makes that policy, he's the one that makes those decisions," Myers said. "And the military will do what we have to do."
Myers was appointed the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Oct. 1, 2001. The chairman serves as the principal military adviser to the US president, secretary of defense and National Security Council.