Arkansas Republican senator and Iraq war vet Tom Cotton ripped President Joe Biden and his administration on Monday for “kowtowing” to the Chinese regime after Beijing threatened to reunite with Taiwan “by force, not by negotiation.”
Cotton, a former U.S. Army officer, was responding to reports that the White House cut a video feed from a Taiwanese minister during a Summit for Democracy, castigating the president for “pathetic weakness.”
“It projects pathetic weakness when Joe Biden convenes a Summit for Democracy, and then he has a member of Taiwan’s cabinet speaking to other democracies – and they cut the feed simply because it shows Taiwan and China in different colors on the map,” Cotton told Fox News’ “Special Report” with Bret Baier on Monday.
“I don’t believe for a minute that it was merely a technical issue. I believe that this is an example of the president and the administration kowtowing to Beijing,” he said.
“What we need to do is stand alongside Taiwan, help secure its autonomy and maintain the status quo across the Strait,” he offered. “That’s been the policy of the United States now for 40 years. But Beijing is the one that is now threatening Taiwan, threatening to change that status quo by force, not by negotiation.”
Cotton went on to say that Biden should apologize to the Taiwanese government for the incident and that “someone should be fired” over it, adding that Biden also should recommit the U.S. to Taiwan’s defense by stepping up arms sales and ensuring the country is too strong for China to attack.
To that point, the U.S. military nearly doubled its unofficial military presence in Taiwan in 2021, Voice of America reported earlier this month.
“Active-duty deployments now include 29 Marines as well as two service members from the Army, three from the Navy and five from the Air Force, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Manpower Data Center,” VOA noted.
The situation between China and Taiwan is unmistakably becoming more dire.
According to the most recent assessment by Taiwan’s defense ministry, China will likely invade by 2025, though the country is not capable of doing so at the moment. In response, Taiwan has hardened its defenses around ports and airfields, which China’s military would need in order to successfully execute an invasion.
“[Taiwan’s] military strongly defends ports and airports and they will not be easy to occupy in a short time. Landing operations will face extremely high risks,” the defense ministry said.
The ministry also said in its report that “China’s People’s Liberation Army did not yet have enough amphibious ships for a lightning invasion carried out in a single wave of landings, according to media in Taipei,” The Times of London reported, citing Taiwanese media.
The report noted as well that the Chinese military’s logistical support capabilities are also limited, and that the Taiwanese military was able to disrupt Chinese supply lines through the harassment of transport ships and aircraft that China would need in order to supply troops with food, ammunition, medical supplies, fuel, and other necessities to sustain an invasion across the 100-plus-mile Taiwan Strait.
But by 2025 — the first year of the next U.S. presidential administration following the 2024 elections — China’s capabilities will have greatly improved, the report says, noting that the PLA is adding bigger and more powerful warships to the Chinese fleet, already the world’s largest.
The U.S. has a security agreement with Taiwan which states that Washington will provide Taipei with modern weapons and technologies necessary for its own defense. However, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) recently introduced the Taiwan Defense Act, which would not only commit the United States military to the defense of the island but also includes a nuclear option.
“In January 2019, the Defense Intelligence Agency assessed that the ‘longstanding’ intent of the government of the People’s Republic of China to compel the unification of Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China, and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence, was the ‘primary driver for China’s military modernization,” said the measure.
“The Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report released in June 2019, states that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is ‘preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the mainland by force, while simultaneously deterring, delaying, or denying any third-party intervention on Taiwan’s behalf,'” it adds.
The measure also calls for “an assessment of the role of the nuclear forces of the United States in deterring or defeating a fait accompli by the People’s Republic of China against Taiwan,” and “ensuring the United States Armed Forces are able to continue combined joint operations to defend Taiwan in a nuclear environment following nuclear weapons use by the People’s Republic of China or the United States.”
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