GOP lawmakers urge expedited weapons deliveries for Taiwan to deter Beijing, avert another Ukraine

Taiwan is "more important than Ukraine ... from a national strategic perspective," said Rep. Mike Garcia, warning against "an attempted annexation" of the self-governing island democracy.

Updated: July 22, 2022 - 11:45pm

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Amid the rising threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, House Republicans are urging prompt resumption of stalled U.S. weapons deliveries to Taiwan, lest the self-governing island democracy become another Ukraine. 

"As Russia invades Ukraine, China eyes Taiwan," said California Rep. Young Kim (R) Wednesday at a roundtable discussion between members of the House China Task Force and the Taiwanese representative to the United States, Bi-khim Hsiao.

"We need to send a strong message that our allies need to trust us," said Kim, explaining that means delivering defensive weapons to Taiwan before they are necessary, not after, as "any delays only help [Chinese President] Xi Jinping."

In recent months, Beijing has repeatedly signaled that it is building up its naval presence as a warning to Taiwan and a challenge to U.S. naval supremacy in the Pacific. Last month, the communist regime's top military official adopted an unmistakably warlike tone in reiterating China's longstanding claim of sovereignty over the island neighbor it regards as a breakaway province. 

"If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost," warned Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

Even as Beijing has stepped up its saber-rattling, however, pandemic and China-related supply chain disruptions have stalled delivery of the lion's share of the $17 billion dollars' worth of weapons Taiwan has purchased from the U.S. in the last several years, most of which China has demanded the U.S. cancel.

In part, the bottleneck stems from China's strategy of "actively dominating certain aspects of the global economy," said Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.). The ruling Chinese Communist Party, he explained, has created a global reliance on the Chinese supply chain that can be leveraged as a defensive measure against some weapons transfers.

While Taiwan's Hsiao exhibited diplomatic restraint in her public remarks Wednesday, she has previously expressed frustration to lawmakers about the slow pace of U.S. weapons deliveries.

GOP lawmakers were were more blunt in urging that weapons transfers be expedited. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) emphasized, as did others in the room, that if Ukraine had been in possession of significant defensive weapons before Russia invaded, Russia might never have invaded. 

Declaring that Taiwan is "more important than Ukraine ... from a national strategic perspective," Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) warned that "an attempted annexation of Taiwan would have a more devastating impact than what we have seen come out of the Ukrainian annexation attempts."

"It would be on a whole new level," Garcia stressed.

Beyond weapons deliveries, there are other ways of assisting Taiwan's preparedness efforts. Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), for example, has offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that invites Taiwan to participate in the Rim of the Pacific exercise in 2024 — the largest international maritime warfare exercise. 

While only Republicans took part in Wednesday's discussion, many, including McCarthy, were in agreement that Taiwan is largely a bipartisan issue.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a leading figure in Republican engagement with Taiwan, called the economically flourishing democracy "a shining beacon of hope in Asia and the Indopacific."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is planning a trip to Taiwan next month, prompting China to warn that the trip could "gravely impact" the foundation of U.S.-China relations.