China could gain control of Taiwan in the next election in January “without a shot fired,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on April 9 on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
“Well, they don’t want a military confrontation. We certainly don’t want that,” McCaul responded after he was asked whether a military confrontation between China and Taiwan is inevitable.
In 2020, China’s ruling communist party imposed its “national security law” on Hong Kong, which authorized local authorities to detain and arrest people on wide-ranging national security charges. The move was made in the aftermath of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
That was a “wake-up call for the people of Taiwan,” McCaul said, noting that it helped secure President Tsai Ing-wen’s reelection.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) greets Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on arrival at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for a bipartisan meeting in Simi Valley, Calif., on April 5, 2023. The historic meeting occurring on U.S. soil has been greeted by threats of retaliation from Beijing. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
“Putin’s invasion in the Ukraine” was also an eye-opener, according to McCaul.
“It woke up the Taiwanese people that now you’re seeing what we haven’t seen since World War II, and that is dictators invading sovereign territory and getting away with it,” he said.
Taiwan is “very nervous” that Chinese leader Xi Jinping could tell his rubber-stamp congress that he wants to integrate Taiwan under Beijing’s rule, McCaul said.
“Now there’s a political debate here with [Taiwan’s] two different parties. One party wants to talk to China. President Tsai’s party does not want to be a part of China. And I think the next elections next January are going to be extremely important because I do believe with the former President Ma in China right now, China’s going to try to influence this next election and take over the island without a shot fired,” he said.
Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou traveled to China for a 12-day visit at the end of March.
On April 5, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and a bipartisan group of legislators met with Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
A day before that summit, the Chinese Embassy in Washington implored the U.S. lawmakers to not attend the meeting.
“I have to point out that China will not sit idly by in the face of a blatant provocation and will most likely take necessary and resolute actions in response to the unwanted situation. Let’s work together to prevent such a thing from happening,” Li Xiang, a Chinese embassy representative, wrote to U.S. lawmakers.
China called Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy a “provocation” and threatened “countermeasures” if the group gathered.
On April 8, the Chinese military conducted drills, dispatching fighter jets into Taiwan’s air space and surrounding the island with warships to simulate a naval blockade.
After a civil war, Taiwan broke away from China in 1949. When the United States formally established diplomatic relations with the Chinese government in 1979, official ties with Taiwan were severed.
Under its “One China” policy, the United States acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China. The United States hasn’t reestablished diplomatic relations with Taiwan but does provide the island of about 24 million citizens with military aid.
McCaul led a bipartisan delegation of House members to Taiwan on April 6 to meet with Taiwanese business leaders and senior government officials “to discuss ways the U.S. can strengthen our economic and defense relationship with Taiwan in the face of growing threats in the region,” McCaul’s office reported.
At a luncheon in Taipei on April 8, McCaul said the United States will help Taiwan with armed forces training and accelerate deliveries of weapons.
“I signed off on those deliveries, and we are doing everything in our power to expedite this,” McCaul said. “Peace through strength is real, and that’s why we need to harden Taiwan.”
Speaking on “Meet the Press” from Taiwan, McCaul said that, in a potential confrontation with China, the nation’s defense abilities are “not where they need to be.”
“If we’re going to have deterrence for peace, we need to get these weapons into Taiwan,” he said.
McCaul pointed out that he signed off on “22 weapon systems over three years ago” and that they “have yet to get into Taiwan.”
“That will provide deterrence to Chairman Xi to think twice, you know, about an invasion,” he said. “And secondly is the combat training that is occurring on the island. We need to ramp that up to a larger scale so they can provide that projection of strength and deterrence. They’re not where they need to be right now.” » …