America is taking action to hold China accountable for crushing Hong Kong’s freedom. In the last few weeks, we’ve enacted a law that allows stronger sanctions on the city’s communist oppressors, started to roll back Hong Kong’s “special status” under U.S. law, and sent aircraft carriers into the South China Sea.
These are all important steps, but more must be done to protect American interests and uphold American values. Not only should we respond to Beijing’s aggression, we must deter future Chinese attempts to dominate its neighbors and spread its communist vision. As I have said many times before — if the United States doesn’t stand up to China on Hong Kong, then Taiwan will be next.
The Chinese Communist Party is already threatening Taiwan. In recent months, the Chinese navy has held major military drills near the island. Chinese air force jets have flown into Taiwan’s airspace. And the Chinese Communist Party has stopped saying it wants a “peaceful” reunification with Taiwan. Communist China is making its intentions clear — to conquer the free and democratic island.
America cannot let that happen. Especially after Hong Kong, there’s an urgent need to show U.S. support for Taiwan, which is one of our most valued and responsible partners in the Indo-Pacific.
Protecting Taiwan from Chinese aggression is essential to preventing an outright conflict with Communist China. No one wants war. Yet by threatening Taiwan, Beijing is making the world less safe and a confrontation more likely. China’s leaders will continue to test the limits of American resolve unless the United States makes it clear that Chinese aggression would come at too high a price.
Now as always, the key to peace is strength.
China has a long history of trying to frighten America and our allies into abandoning Taiwan. During my time as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I saw China threaten small countries into giving up their support for Taiwan. More recently, a group of U.S. officials and politicians — including me — made Beijing angry just by congratulating Taiwan’s president for her electoral victory. Virtually every American who dares to show support for Taiwan is on the receiving end of Chinese criticism or threats.
But Beijing’s criticism is a badge of honor. It’s a sure sign that you’re doing something right.
The Chinese Communist Party hates America’s support for Taiwan because it fears the example that Taiwan sets. While mainland China is mired in tyranny, Taiwan is a marvel of freedom. It is a thriving democracy, with real elections and serious debates. It has an open economy, which has made it one of the richest places in the world and a major trading hub. Its success comes down to freedom and the rule of law, which are values America shares.
No wonder America has long supported Taiwan. And it’s a good thing we’ve strengthened our partnership with Taiwan in recent years.
For starters, the Trump administration has authorized more than $8 billion in military sales to Taiwan, including F-16 fighter jets that can be used to defend the island. The most recent deal, which includes $620 million in missile defense upgrades, resulted in a Chinese threat of sanctions against a U.S. defense contractor — once again proving that it was the right thing to do.
The Trump administration has also ordered U.S. Navy ships to sail through the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China. While Beijing has issued threats over these actions, they are necessary to show to China that America is serious about preventing a war.
Congress has already taken important steps in passing pro-Taiwan legislation that President Trump signed into law. But more must be done — now. With China’s takeover of Hong Kong, the time is right to double down on support for Taiwan.
With China’s takeover of Hong Kong, the time is right to double down on support for Taiwan.
There are a few strong steps that America can take. One of the most obvious is selling more hi-tech military equipment to Taiwan. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) has introduced a worthwhile bill, the Taiwan Defense Act, that would help ensure America is providing the necessary support to Taiwan. It’s also time for U.S. leaders to publicly recommit to our promise to defend Taiwan. This week Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) will introduce a bill authorizing the United States to respond with force and protect Taiwan if China were to attack.
Economically, both the United States and Taiwan would greatly benefit from a free trade deal. Many members of Congress have publicly supported such a deal, which would be a win for American jobs and workers. After all, Taiwanese companies are already building factories in the United States, and with a trade deal, they could do much more. This would be especially useful for the hi-tech, cutting-edge innovation that America needs to ensure our economic leadership in the 21st Century.
Our policymakers should find more ways to bring America’s and Taiwan’s best and brightest together. While Communist China has abused our higher education system to steal U.S. secrets and train its future leaders, Taiwanese students, researchers, and scientists would bring real benefits to our economy and security. By the same token, greater collaboration between our lawmakers, diplomats, and military would enable us to better defend our shared interests. Members of the House and Senate have introduced legislation on this front that Congress should pass.
America’s interests here are clear. Building a stronger bond with Taiwan will benefit American security, American prosperity, and American leadership. But supporting Taiwan is also a matter of American values. Standing with free Taiwan shows that we stand up to the communist tyranny of mainland China. There is no more urgent task on the world stage today.