Taiwanese speaker says island must become ‘fish bone’ that Xi Jinping would choke on

McCaul and the CODEL and Taiwan's Legislative Yuan
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the rest of the bipartisan congressional delegation is welcomed by Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan. Jerry Dunleavy

Taiwanese speaker says island must become ‘fish bone’ that Xi Jinping would choke on

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — The leader of Taiwan’s legislature argued that the democratic island must pursue deterrence against an invasion from China by becoming like a “fish bone” that Chinese leader Xi Jinping would not want to try to eat and could not swallow without choking.

You Si-kun, the president of the Legislative Yuan, a position akin to the U.S. speaker of the House in Taiwan’s unicameral parliamentary body, made the comments on Friday during a press conference with members of Congress following a high-profile visit by a U.S. delegation to a session of Taiwan’s legislature that was heavily covered by a swarm of local Taiwanese media outlets.

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“If Taiwan can become some sort of fish bone that China would not want to swallow and cannot swallow, then China would not dare to attempt to invade Taiwan,” You said during a press conference as he stood alongside Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and eight other members of the House.

The answer came after the Washington Examiner asked You whether Taiwan viewed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a wake-up call for the island democracy related to a potential Chinese invasion from across the Taiwan Strait and what the Taiwanese leader thought of the burgeoning alliance between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“In my view, Putin actually saw Ukraine as a delicious meal, but after taking action and starting a war, he realized it’s actually a fish bone that is stuck in his throat, and he can’t swallow it and he can’t spit it out,” You said. “So, I believe this is a warning for Xi Jinping as well.”

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

“The lesson we can take from the Russia-Ukraine war … is that we have realized that peace is very fragile, and the democratic alliance around the world needs to stay alert because we need to be prepared for any potential invasion by any authoritarian aggressors,” You said. “The war in Ukraine let the people of Taiwan realize that the CCP may invade Taiwan at any moment.”

The “no limits” partnership announced by Xi and Putin ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early 2022 came just before Russia’s Ukraine invasion. 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 100 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 … the all-round practical cooperation between China and Russia has yielded fruitful outcomes.”

“When it comes to the development of international situations, of course the peace-loving people of Taiwan will be worried about the increasing China-Russia cooperation and their attempts to make changes unseen in 100 years,” You said. “If you look at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which started last year … it was an event that was very shocking, not only to the people of Taiwan but to the entire democratic alliance around the world.”

You had also noted in his opening remarks that “after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russia-China cooperation has become a huge threat to democracies worldwide.”

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.

The typical protocol would have been for the U.S. congressmen to meet first with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen before meeting with You, but she was traveling in the United States, including a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday. McCaul and his delegation will meet with her on Saturday when she returns to Taiwan.

McCaul said during the press conference that “we live in dangerous times.”

“We have the Russian invasion of Ukraine — the largest invasion in Europe since World War II. And now, we have Communist China, as you mentioned, with its sights set on Taiwan and the Pacific,” the House chairman continued. “Deterrence is the key. When we project strength, we get peace. If we project weakness, we invite aggression and war. We want to do everything in our power, standing together with you, to project strength to the Communist Party in China, that an invasion or aggression will not stand, and it will not be tolerated.”

You said Taiwan has “three important elements to defend itself.” The first was “the natural protection” of the Taiwan Strait, which divides the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan by sea. The Taiwanese legislative leader said the second was the “advanced weapons coming from the U.S. and other like-minded friendly nations.” And the third was that “the people of Taiwan now have a very strong will to protect themselves, and in my view, a strong will to defend oneself is the best form of national defense.”

He added that Taiwan could become like a “porcupine” and that “if Xi Jinping is smart enough, he will not attempt to invade Taiwan.”

McCaul said, “We need to harden Taiwan through enhanced weapons sales, which I sign off on, and also through joint training exercises.” He contended that “Communist China needs to know that an invasion or blockade would come at too high a price” and vowed that “united, we will protect Taiwan from the Chinese Communist Party, and we will promote peace, freedom, and democracy — the values that both of our countries hold so dear.”

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?”

You said, “Amidst China’s wolf-warrior diplomacy and continued threats to global peace and stability,” McCaul’s “gesture” to be “physically here to demonstrate through action the support of the U.S. Congress for Taiwan” was “admirable and moving.”

“Of course we welcome any friendly nations to come work together with us to fight against any sort of expansion or aggression by authoritarian regimes because Taiwan is a freedom-loving democracy and human-loving country that respects human rights, and we do not want war — we pursue peace,” You added in response to a question from Fox News about whether he would welcome U.S. troops to Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. “If any country attempts to violate these values and invade such a nation, then the entire democratic alliance worldwide should stand together to fight against it.”

You also used the opportunity to opine a bit on what he saw as the “nature” of the Chinese Communist Party, which he characterized as “a combination of communism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism.”

“But it also has the traditional Chinese mentality behind all that — and this mentality is that there will be no two suns in one sky and there can only be one king in a land, and every nation on one land belongs to the kingdom,” You said. “China sees itself as a celestial empire.”

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

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“In the past, there was this strategic ambiguity, and many people want to see strategic clarity,” You said when asked by Bloomberg whether he preferred strategic ambiguity or strategic clarity. “However, in my personal view, I think that even though it is not stated clearly, we can tell that the U.S. strategies are very clear right now.”

The Taiwanese legislative leader also critiqued the concept of “China’s peaceful rise” as a “scam” as he pointed to the CCP’s persecution of human rights inside China, its takeover in Hong Kong, its persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, its militarization of the South China Sea, and its use of Confucius Institutes and its Belt and Road Initiative to influence other countries as part of its “blatant expansionist ambitions.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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