Defense hawks in Congress are voicing support for President Joe Biden’s vow to use the military to defend Taiwan if China invades, asserting that the White House should not walk back his comments.
Biden stated that military involvement was on the table in the event of an invasion during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday.
"That's the commitment we made," he said. Shortly after Biden’s comments, an administration official pedaled back his remarks, stating: “As the president said, our policy has not changed. He reiterated our 'One China' policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
BIDEN SAYS 'YES,' US WOULD USE MILITARY TO DEFEND TAIWAN IF CHINA INVADES
But a sizable number of lawmakers argue that the United States needs to show strength amid the threat.
“It does provide a deterrent message that we will defend Taiwan, and coming from the president, that's very, very strong,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during an appearance on CNN. “And I think China needs to understand that they can't take this lightly and that we're not going to sit back idly and watch them invade Taiwan in the South China Sea. And just like with Putin, it's not a question of if but when he decided to do it.”
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, echoed McCaul’s sentiments, noting the economic repercussions that would likely result in the event China overtakes the region.
“I welcome the president's strong language right on China's doorstep as he's meeting with the new Japanese prime minister," Waltz said on Fox News. "I was then going to say I hope the White House doesn't come around and try to clean it up. It sounds like they already are, and that kind of ambiguity isn't helpful.”
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a Marine veteran, applauded Biden for asserting the country won’t tolerate any action against the sovereign island nation.
“This is what tough on China actually looks like,” he told the Washington Examiner in a statement. “Trump asked Xi for fraudulent help winning his reelection. Biden makes good on a true, hard commitment to stop their aggression.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that sending mixed messages to China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, could prompt China to invade.
“I’ve long said that we should change our Taiwan policy from ‘strategic ambiguity’ to ‘strategic clarity’: The United States will come to the defense of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. As usual, strategic clarity and military strength is the best way to deter China,” he said in a statement.
“Given President Biden’s apparent policy shift in off-the-cuff remarks at a press conference in Japan, followed by anonymous White House aides trying to ‘walk back’ his statement, it’s now essential that President Biden restate our new policy of strategic clarity in clear, deliberate remarks from a prepared text," Cotton said. "Otherwise, the continued ambiguity and uncertainty will likely provoke the Chinese communists without deterring them — the worst of both worlds.”
And Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) questioned why White House aides are contradicting the president.
"In August, Biden said he'd respond militarily if China attacks Taiwan. His staff walked it back. In October, he said it again. Walked back again. Today, he said it a third time. Walked back a third time. Is Joe Biden really in charge?” he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin blasted Biden’s comments, telling reporters that “China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to his stance during a press conference on Monday, reiterating the Chinese Communist Party’s position that Taiwan is part of its territory.
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"No one should underestimate the strong resolve, determination and capability of the Chinese people in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. No one should not stand in opposition to the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” he said.