McCaul and Taiwan VP link Russian invasion of Ukraine to China’s threats toward island

CODEL meets with Taiwan VP in Taipei
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and seven other bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives meet with Taiwanese Vice President William Lai in Taipei on Thursday, April 6, 2023. Rep. Michael McCaul’s office

McCaul and Taiwan VP link Russian invasion of Ukraine to China’s threats toward island

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TAIPEI, Taiwan —Taiwan’s vice president and a leading House Republican both linked Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to China’s ongoing threats against the democratic island nation following a meeting in Taipei aimed at strengthening the U.S.-Taiwan partnership.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led seven other bipartisan members on a multiday trip to Taiwan. The trip commenced Thursday despite the Chinese government warning the U.S. congressmen not to come. The visit began with a meeting in Taipei between the House members and Taiwanese Vice President William Lai. Both McCaul and Lai condemned both Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s attempts to coerce Taiwan, with McCaul promising that the United States would “protect” the democratic island nation.

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McCaul raised last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine during joint remarks with Lai at the Taiwan presidential building on Thursday, warning of the Chinese-Russian alliance pursued by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, mentioning the “no limits” partnership announced by Xi and Putin ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early 2022, and saying that “Communist China” was now closely watching the U.S. delegation’s meetings with Taiwan leaders.

“It is important that we protect you. I know there is a lot of talk of ambiguity, but I want to make it clear that the United States stands by you and will protect you,” McCaul told Lai. “That’s why I believe on my committee … the foreign military sales, we need to get those weapons in here to protect and harden Taiwan from threats from outside.”

President Joe Biden has repeatedly vowed that the U.S. would respond militarily to defend Taiwan if China attacked Taiwan, and each time, the White House has subsequently insisted America’s decadeslong policy toward Taiwan was not shifting.

McCaul spoke of “this great power competition we find ourselves in against dictators, spanning from Russia to China to Iran to North Korea.” He said that is why the delegation “has visited our allies in the region,” with visits this week to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii and Guam followed by trips to Japan, South Korea, and now Taiwan, “so that we can stand together against these great adversarial nations that pose such a great threat to the Pacific region.”

“Because you stand for the principles we stand for — democracy and freedom — therefore, you pose a threat to them,” McCaul told Lai of Beijing. “But we stand with you today. … This struggle for the global balance of power we find ourselves in today often reminds me of my father’s generation, often referred to as the Greatest Generation in the United States. Then we had Hitler and Hiroto; today we have Putin and Chairman Xi.”

Lai said, “The people of Taiwan love peace; however, peace cannot be achieved by giving in, and we cannot rely on the aggressor’s charity for peace.”

“We are seeing the rise of authoritarianism. Authoritarian regimes have started to expand and impose aggressions — Russia invaded Ukraine, and the People’s Republic of China started military drills across the Taiwan Strait, threatening us with force and war,” Taiwan’s vice president said. “In the face of complicated international landscapes, Taiwan stands on the front line of combating authoritarian actions. Here I would like to say to congressman McCaul and our friends and allies that Taiwan will be determined to safeguard its national security and defend the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

Lai continued, “We know very clearly what President Reagan said: Peace through strength. As President Tsai said, peace relies on national defense, and national defense depends on the people of Taiwan. It is true that we need to prepare for war in order to avoid one, and we need to be prepared to fight to stop a war.”

McCaul was joined on the Taiwan trip by Rep. Young Kim (R-CA), the chairwoman of the subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific, by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), ranking member on the subcommittee, and by Reps. French Hill (R-AR), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Michael Lawler (R-NY), Nathaniel Moran (R-TX), and Madeleine Dean (D-PA).

The typical protocol would have been for the U.S. congressmen to first meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, but she was traveling in the U.S. Her itinerary included a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and more than a dozen other congressmen at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday. McCaul and his delegation will meet with her when she returns to Taiwan later this week.

The Chinese government responded to Tsai’s trip to the U.S. and to her meeting with McCarthy by ramping up its rhetoric and conducting increased military activity off the coast of Taiwan, with Chinese state-run media warning about “multiple land, naval, and air exercises focusing on amphibious landing missions” underway in the Taiwan Strait.

Congressional Republicans have demanded the White House take more forceful steps to challenge Beijing’s rhetorical, economic, and, at minimum, nonlethal military support to Russia.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified in March that the DragonBear alliance between Russia and China is “continuing to deepen” in “every sector” amid “real concern” about Beijing assisting Moscow’s war efforts in Ukraine.

Xi traveled to Moscow last month and told Putin at the Kremlin that “right now there are changes the likes of which we haven’t seen for one hundred years — and we are the ones driving these changes together.” Putin said he agreed, and Xi added, “Take care, please, dear friend.”

The Chinese leader also pointed out that “since last year,” when Russia invaded Ukraine, “the all-round practical cooperation between China and Russia has yielded fruitful outcomes.”

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Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang defended the China-Russia alliance in the context of Taiwan last month, asking, “Why does the U.S. ask China not to provide weapons to Russia while it keeps selling arms to Taiwan?”

U.S. Air Force Gen. Michael Minihan warned earlier this year that China may invade Taiwan as early as 2025.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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