Democrats Under White House Pressure To Water Down Taiwan Support

Biden since he became president has said three times that America will defend Taiwan militarily — only to be contradicted by aides who are apparently eager to appease Communist China.

Ting Shen/pool via AP, file
Senator Graham. Ting Shen/pool via AP, file

As the People’s Liberation Army completes a dress rehearsal for a military siege of Free China, will Senator Menendez cave to White House pressure and water down a bill aimed at “restructuring” America’s relations with Taiwan?

The chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee introduced the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 this week together with the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Graham of South Carolina. The bill would allocate $4.5 billion in security assistance to Taiwan over the next four years, recognize Taipei as a “major non-NATO ally,” and expand Taiwan’s “diplomatic space” by promoting its participation in international organizations and in multilateral trade agreements.

Now, the Biden administration is pressuring Democrats to slow-walk the legislation and water it down. 

Since he became president, Mr. Biden has said three times that America will defend Taiwan militarily — only to be contradicted by White House aides who are apparently eager to appease Communist China.

Apparently for the same reason, the national security council’s spokesman, John Kirby, said today that America is delaying a pre-scheduled test launch of an Air Force Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. Also, to further avoid escalating tensions with Beijing, White House aides are leaning on Mr. Menendez and other Democrats to soften their bill. 

“The White House has significant concerns” about the Menendez-Graham bill, Senator Murphy of Connecticut said, according to Bloomberg. One of the committee’s least hawkish members, Mr. Murphy added that he, too, has “significant concerns.” He confirmed that the committee is delaying the legislation’s progress until September, and may soften some of its provisions in the interim. 

Beijing is not waiting for Congress and the White House to debate whether defending an ally under constant threat of being swallowed whole by an aggressive Communist regime is worth the effort. 

The PLA has launched what at first was announced as a four-day naval drill in the Taiwan strait. The Red army then extended the drill to five days and expanded the naval firing zone to areas that completely encircle the island of Taiwan.

At least 11 missiles landed in Taiwanese waters north, south, and east of the free island today. Five missiles also hit waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. International commercial flights to and from Taipei are being rerouted and shipping has been interrupted; the Taiwanese army is on its highest alert level. 

Beijing claims that its military show of force comes as a response to Speaker Pelosi ‘s visit to Taipei this week. That trip, the Red Chinese regime maintains, was a major change in the decades-old status quo. Not so fast, Mr. Menendez said.

“The fact is that it’s China, not the United States, that has been steadily seeking to change the status quo with Taiwan,” the senator wrote yesterday in a New York Times op-ed designed to present his new bipartisan legislation. He touted the bill as “the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy toward Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.”

Taiwan produces two-thirds of the world’s microchips, and is a leading manufacturer of semiconductors. Any attempt by Beijing to take the island by force would devastate the global economy. As today’s PLA blockade in the guise of a military exercise shows, just blocking  major Asian shipping lanes would further disrupt supply chains.  

Some in the region are skeptical that the Communist Party chairman, Xi Jinping, would annex the island forcefully. “I doubt he’d order a full military invasion because China’s economy would suffer badly,” a Japanese government official told the Sun, asking for anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Yet, Mr. Xi vowed to take over the free island during his presidency, which is widely expected to be extended for a third, five-year term this fall. He has also vowed that during his term Red China would replace America as top global power. 

Mr. Menendez likened Beijing’s current intimidation of Taiwan to Russia’s maneuvering on the eve of its February invasion of Ukraine. Like President Zelensky then, Free China’s president tweeted today, “Taiwan will not escalate conflict, but we will resolutely defend our sovereignty, our security & our democracy.” 

Standing next to Mrs. Pelosi earlier this week, President Tsai pronounced Taiwan “a reliable and trustworthy partner of the United States,” and added that she would “work with the U.S. Congress, as well as the administration, to strengthen cooperation.”

Yet, the White House seems eager to slow down the Senate’s new Taiwan Act, and questions abound about the commitment of some Democrats to the Taiwan alliance — and whether they would weaken even further as pressures intensify.  

Earlier this week Secretary Blinken, alongside foreign ministers from seven leading democracies, warned Beijing not to “unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region.” In a statement, the G7’s ministers said: “There is no justification” to use Mrs. Pelosi’s visit “as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.”

They also encouraged “all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency, and maintain open lines of communication to prevent misunderstanding.”

If the Biden administration really wanted to avoid misunderstandings, it would loudly promote the Menendez-Graham bill and immediately reschedule the ICBM test. Such moves would to signal America’s refusal to be intimidated by a Communist regime that threatens the security of its neighborhood and the world. 

The New York Sun

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