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GOP seizes Taiwan issue after Biden administration waffles on Pelosi trip

RNC passes resolution slamming Biden for "inconsistent and ambiguous" support for island and demanding a statement "recognizing Taiwan's right to exist."

August 5, 2022 5:16pm

Updated: August 5, 2022 11:51pm

For decades, Taiwan has been able to assert its independence from China because of unequivocal — albeit nuanced — support from the United States. But the Biden administration managed to muddle the message in historic fashion by failing to embrace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taipei, emboldening an angry Beijing to act out militarily in the Taiwan Strait and rhetorically on the world stage.

Republicans, who mastered the last House Speaker's trip to Taiwan a quarter century earlier on Newt Gingrich's watch, are seizing on the debacle to create sharp contrast between the parties' approaches to foreign policy.

On Friday, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution that slams the president for creating "ambiguity and confusion that encourages China and can potentially lead to a military miscalculation" in the Pacific and demands that the administration clean up its mess by "recognizing Taiwan's right to exist."

The resolution's sponsor, longtime RNC committeeman Solomon Yue, said the  resolution put Taiwan on the same equal footing as Israel when it comes to American commitment to peace.

"I am elated that the RNC recognizes Taiwan's right to exist as the U.S. government recognizes Israel's right to exist during the time CCP China is rattling sabers,” he said.

Taiwan went from the back burner of the Ukraine war to white hot global crisis when Pelosi announced she was visiting the island and Biden undercut the trip. "The military thinks it's not a good idea right now," the president declared. Pelosi ignored the tepid warning and went anyways.

The debacle projected weakness for America on the global stage and earned condemnation across political aisles. Republicans embraced Pelosi's courage while mainstream media sites normally aligned with the Democrats decried the president's performance.

"By openly arguing among ourselves about Pelosi's travel, we made the trip a public spectacle, forcing Beijing to react," David R. Stilwell, former assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told Politico on Friday. "Had we done the trip quietly, as we usually do, it would have generated none of the brinkmanship we're seeing now."

John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor and United Nations ambassador, told Just the News  that Biden ultimately left the world with an impression that the U.S. is willing to bow to China's criticism.

"They showed weakness here," he said. "I mean, if the President really didn't want Nancy Pelosi to go, if he really thought it was a mistake, he could have called her up. He's known her for 40 years, if not more, and they could have had a conversation. Instead, he lays it off on the Pentagon. And it's kind of haphazard, and she ends up going, which she should have done. The Chinese should not tell us how to conduct our diplomacy with Taiwan."

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), a longtime champion of Taiwan in Congress, said lawmakers can and should fill the gap that Biden has created. 

"China does not get to tell the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, where they can and cannot fly, unless it is inside the territory of Communist China," he told Just the News.

America "does not have to have permission from China to go anywhere else," he added, "and the fact that they think we do, so simply tells you how aggressive they are with regard to their attempt to manipulate and dominate the world."

The RNC resolution demands that the State Department restore clarity and consistency regarding U.S. support for Taiwan. Reaffirming the GOP's own support for Taiwan, the resolution "calls for clarity from the Biden administration on the United States' Taiwan policy, which has been inconsistent and ambiguous." That clarity, it specifies, should include the U.S. standing by "its commitment to make available to Taiwan the defense articles and services necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capacity in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act" and further "supporting Taiwan and recognizing Taiwan's right to exist."

You can read the full resolution here:

Politics aside, experts fear Beijing might interpret Biden's equivocation as an invitation to take some form of hostile action to force Taiwan back under mainland China's thumb. Some current and former military officials believe an invasion is possible.

"I think within two years Taiwan is gonna rise to the level of the real crisis," said retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg, former national security adviser to both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Bolton said China is more likely to usurp Taiwan's independence through blockages and scare tactics than an outright invasion.

"I think China's strategy is to create an artificial crisis, perhaps throwing a blockade up. perhaps something else, that requires the United States and others — Japan and others — to come and stand with Taiwan to break the blockade or whatever might be necessary," he said. "And they hope that America will back down. And if it does, then Taiwan may fall into their lap like a piece of ripe fruit."

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