Threat of Chinese Invasion of Taiwan at All-Time High, GOP Warns

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army shout during the rehearse of the parade early morning on October 01, 2019, in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. / Getty Images
May 17, 2022

The threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan "remains unabated, if not heightened" as a result of the Biden administration's "slow, manipulatable, and self-defeatist posture" toward the war in Ukraine, according to a group of Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress who are pressing the White House to confront Beijing.

"We are concerned that Beijing may be learning different lessons from the ongoing crisis [in Ukraine], and the risk of a People's Liberation Army assault on Taiwan remains unabated, if not heightened," eight Republicans, including those on the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, according to a copy of the missive obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "To proactively deter China from attempting an invasion of Taiwan, we call on your administration to commit unequivocally and publicly to uphold Taiwan’s security and the intent of the United States to act in the event of Chinese military aggression against the island."

The Biden administration has sent mixed messages on Taiwan. The president committed to defending the island's sovereignty from a Chinese attack before having his staff reverse course on that stance. China, like Russia, watched the Biden administration fumble through Afghanistan—abandoning allies in the country and millions of dollars in military equipment—and believes American military power across the globe is waning. The bungled evacuation fostered uncertainty among allies and stoked confidence in adversaries, the lawmakers said. Now, with Russia waging a war in Ukraine, the Biden administration has flip-flopped on sanctions, slowed military aid to Ukraine, and provided critical economic lifelines to Russian president Vladimir Putin, the lawmakers said.

"The way your administration is handling the Russian invasion of Ukraine has immense repercussions on Taiwan’s security," wrote the lawmakers, led by Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), an Armed Services Committee member. "China is taking note of the slow, manipulatable, and self-defeatist posture of the United States in a scenario very similar to the one it envisions vis-à-vis Taiwan."

The only way to stave off a Chinese incursion into Taiwan is to make it "crystal clear to Chinese leaders" that the United States "will bring all elements of our national power to bear in defense of Taiwan's security without hesitation if called upon," according to the lawmakers, who said the Biden administration's posture toward China has been overly deferential.

Since Russia launched its unprovoked war on Ukraine, tensions in the Taiwan Strait have reached all-time highs, with Chinese officials "considering 'armed reunification' of Taiwan more seriously than at any time in the last five decades."

The United States' "inability to forestall the Russian invasion and unwillingness to impose truly devastating cost [sic] on Russia as its aggression unfolds gives Beijing good reason to believe that the United States would be even more circumspect in its reaction to a Chinese" military incursion into Taiwan, the lawmakers maintain.

As Russia suffers mass casualties and an unexpected pressure campaign from the international community, China is learning valuable lessons from its ally's failure. The CCP now realizes it needs "more firepower, better logistics, more sophisticated influence, and an increased budget for contingencies," the lawmakers said.

The CCP is also paying close attention to the Biden administration's diplomatic dance on sanctions against Russia, the lawmakers wrote. While some measures have hit the Russian economy hard, in other instances the Biden administration has declined to penalize Moscow's energy trade, fearing global economic ramifications.

"From watching the United States, China is learning that deep integration in the global economy can result in a slow and hesitant response from the West, especially the United States, that could create opportunities for them," the lawmakers wrote. "We must disabuse them of the latter lesson."

The Biden administration's "conflicting messages to Beijing about Taiwan" make it more likely that China will decide to act, the lawmakers said.

Banks, in remarks to the Free Beacon about his letter, said the foreign policy challenges the Biden administration faces have distracted from China's war footing in the Taiwan Strait.

"Biden's already long list of foreign policy disasters has distracted from Beijing's increasing aggression," Banks said. "But House Republicans can't overlook the unmatched threat posed by Communist China. In 2021, Communist Party incursions into Taiwan's airspace hit record levels."

If the Biden administration cannot confront the threat, it will fall to Congress to "ensure that the White House Biden learns from its mistakes and stops the submissive posturing that failed to deter Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and that has emboldened Chairman Xi."