The Debate

Don’t Mess With Taiwan

The U.S. commitment to Taiwan will never be up for discussion with China, warns House Representative Michael McCaul.

By Michael McCaul for
Don’t Mess With Taiwan
Credit: Presidential Office, ROC (Taiwan)

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has not been shy about its goals in the Indo-Pacific region. Over the next two decades, or sooner, they plan to establish geographic dominance over the nations in their backyard, while also expanding their ideological reach across the globe. Taiwan, a neighbor to China and stalwart ally of the United States, is facing the most immediate threat from an increasingly aggressive CCP. They won’t face that threat alone. The House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and I, as lead Republican, approved a $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan and sent a very clear message to China: Don’t mess with Taiwan.

Congress received formal notification on July 8 of President Donald Trump’s intent to provide Abrams tanks, Stinger, TOW 2B and Javelin missiles to Taiwan. Chairman Engel and I approved these sales on a bipartisan basis.

The CCP’s military forces are estimated at more than 2 million active duty personnel, compared to about 275,000 in Taiwan. To bridge the gap, the United States supports Taiwan’s military with the same equipment utilized by our military, allies, and partners around the world. Taiwan’s defense equipment should not be inferior to those of any possible opponent it may face. To that end, I anticipate notification on the sale of dozens of F-16V fighter aircraft for Taiwan very soon, which I will strongly support.

Nonetheless, China continues to threaten regional peace and security. On April 1, People’s Liberation Army fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait — a dangerous act of aggression not seen in two decades.

Congress’ arms sales are only a small piece of our support for Taiwan. As protests erupted in Hong Kong this past June, the House Foreign Affairs Committee remembered the Chinese people at Tiananmen, who stood for reform, democratic transparency and human rights in the face of violence perpetrated by the CCP 30 years ago. 

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In May, the Committee commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, historic legislation that built an unshakeable foundation for our relationship with Taiwan. The House of Representatives also passed the Taiwan Assurance Act, which I introduced, along with a resolution introduced by Chairman Engel, that reaffirms our commitment to Taiwan. These bills sent a direct message to Beijing: The United States will continue to strengthen our relationship with Taiwan, and we will not be intimidated.

Much to China’s chagrin, Chairman Engel and I led a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders from both Chambers to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as she transited through New York this month. We exchanged views on the positive trajectory of our relationship and explored ways to enhance our cooperation in ensuring a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. To start, the United States and Taiwan should begin trade talks, to address longstanding market access issues, and make our relationship even more mutually beneficial.

Whether it’s Tiananmen, Taiwan, or territorial islands in the South China Sea, or their corruptive “economic project” known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the CCP continues to rewrite history and facts. Taiwan’s democracy is a threat to the CCP because it stands in the shadow of their authoritarianism, proving there is a better way. The American people will not stand aside as China attempts to challenge the resolve of the freedom-loving people of Taiwan – who are a beacon of democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law. Our commitment to Taiwan will never be up for discussion with China. 

Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) is the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.