Republican lawmakers just back from a fact-finding mission to the Indo-Pacific region vowed to help protect Taiwan from increasing Chinese aggression.
Sens. Mike Crapo, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Tommy Tuberville, and Reps. Tony Gonzales and Jake Ellzey, all of whom are Republicans, met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, along with various defense and diplomatic leaders in Taipei and Filipino and Indian leaders. At issue was the United States's long-standing stance of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, meant to give the White House options without a clear commitment.
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“We did more listening to what their concerns are,” Tuberville said during a Monday presser with reporters, adding that the intent of the trip was to “listen to their plan.”
The Alabama senator also noted that a war with China would not be beneficial to either side, despite its continued military advancements and aggression toward Taiwan.
“We’re all tired of wars, we just got out of a 20-year war. We’re not looking for war, but we are looking to protect our friends. And Taiwan is in the first island chain outside of China,” he continued. “One step leads to another, and we obviously, and even President Biden has said this, we will defend Taiwan because we understand it’s the first step.”
Ellzey, a freshman in Congress, said that the Chinese Embassy in Washington warned them not to go on the congressional trip.
“To our knowledge, this type of language hasn’t been used with U.S. lawmakers before from the Chinese Embassy,” he said, according to Foreign Policy. “It wasn’t a threat, but urging us to cancel. They didn’t use the word ‘condemn,’ but it was pretty clear it was a condemnation of the trip.”
He also said that the Chinese officials told his chief of staff before they took off that their journey threatened “everything that America says about the ‘One China’ policy and that Taiwan is a part of China.”
The U.S. has put military forces in Taiwan for training purposes, Tsai confirmed last month, though she conceded the number of U.S. forces there “is not as many as people thought.”
President Joe Biden and Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping spoke virtually on Monday though they did not establish new “guardrails” around Taiwan.
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