Officials in Beijing are reportedly closely monitoring Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States this week after she arrived in New York on Wednesday. China has warned it would retaliate if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with the Taiwanese leader during her planned stop to California. She is currently set to meet with Speaker McCarthy and other Republican lawmakers at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley on her return trip from visits to Guatemala and Belize, The Wall Street Journal reported.
McCarthy is the highest GOP officeholder in the country and is second in line to become president after Vice President Kamala Harris.
“China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the U.S. and Taiwan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters at a daily briefing on Thursday. “China will continue to closely follow the situation and resolutely safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Beijing maintains that Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of 23 million people, is a breakaway province that will be brought under mainland control, by force if necessary. The U.S. dynamic with Taiwan remains one of the most divisive issues in American-Chinese relations.
Tsai has said that this visit to the U.S. and Central America was meant to thank “democratic partners” for supporting Taiwan.
“By making this trip, I want to thank our democratic partners for supporting Taiwan,” Tsai said in remarks on Wednesday, The Hill reported. “I also want to tell the world that democratic Taiwan stands firm in defense of our values of freedom and democracy. We will continue to act as a force for good in the international community, to continue the virtuous cycle, and to strengthen democratic resilience worldwide.”
Lawmakers Call For Sanctions
A number of U.S. lawmakers have noted that China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping has essentially called upon the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the Chinese Communist Party, to be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027. Such a move would inflict devastating consequences on America’s allies, its service members in the region, as well as the nation.
However, members of Congress have also warned that the U.S. has yet to formulate a clear strategy to protect America’s economy and significantly strengthen our partners in the region as a deterrent to inflict maximum consequences on the CCP in the event of such an act of aggression.
This week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan) introduced the Taiwan Protection and National Resilience Act. The bipartisan and bicameral proposal would require the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, and other federal agencies to report to Congress on the United States’ non-kinetic options to both prepare for and respond to a CCP attack on Taiwan, including opportunities to sanction the CCP and preempt Beijing’s retaliatory measures.
A similar measure was introduced in the Senate in December but it failed to reach a vote on the Senate floor.
“The threat of a reckless blockade or invasion of Taiwan from the CCP is real and one that both the U.S. and our international allies must be prepared for. At a time when our nation’s reliance on China’s genocidal regime leaves us hostage to Beijing’s leverage, we must develop a strategy to respond to the CCP’s hostile acts,” Senator Rubio said in a statement.
The sentiments were echoed by his Democratic colleague.
“The U.S.-Taiwan relationship is critical and we must protect against malign actors like the Chinese government that threaten the sovereignty of other nations – especially amid Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine,” added Senator Peters. “While efforts to deter aggression are essential, this bipartisan bill would help ensure we are prepared for and would be ready to respond in the event the Chinese government violates Taiwan’s sovereignty.”
The bill would require the DoD, in collaboration with the Intelligence Community and the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security, to outline an effective sanctions strategy against Beijing in the event of aggression against Taiwan. The strategy would further examine the effect of an invasion on the United States and identify the steps necessary to preemptively mitigate national vulnerabilities, including by making recommendations to strengthen economic resilience.
It was also announced U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Brad Schneider (D-Illionis) will introduce companion legislation in the House.
“Now more than ever, we need to stand by the free people of democratic Taiwan. Planning today for tomorrow’s contingencies—including the threat of an invasion from Communist China—makes them less likely to occur,” said Rep. Smith. “This legislation combines preparedness with resolve in calling for strategies to counter any offensive gambit by Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party and to squeeze their ability to conduct military operations against the free people of Taiwan.”
Rep. Schneider also said that America must be prepared to stand up to an opportunistic Chinese regime that may have learned the wrong lessons from Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine. “By showing the Chinese Communist Party that Democrats and Republicans are working in lockstep to ensure our military is prepared, this bill will deter future aggression and protect Taiwan’s liberty for generations to come.”
In December, President Joe Biden signed a $10 billion security assistance package for Taiwan. However, it is important to note that the U.S. maintains only unofficial relations with the self-ruling island. Currently, just 13 nations have formal ties with the government in Taipei, and earlier this week Honduras shifted its diplomatic relations to Beijing.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.