0127: China to “Flex Muscles” at U.S. And Japan, A Harris-Lai Meeting Urged, STAND with Taiwan Act, Arm Taiwan Act

China Sends Large Numbers of Warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ to “Flex Muscles” at U.S., Japan

On January 23, China sent 39 military aircraft into Taiwan’s southwestern air defense identification zone (ADIZ), in its second-largest single-day incursion, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said. It added that 13 Chinese warplanes entered the zone on January 24. The Chinese incursions were displays of muscle-flexing to the U.S. and Japan, scholars said.

Asked to comment on the recent Chinese incursions, Taiwan’s defense expert Lin Ying-yu said that China was doing so to demonstrate its military might to two world powers, namely, the U.S. and Japan, which just concluded a round of drills at seas off Okinawa over the weekend.

Chieh Chung, an associate research fellow at Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation, agreed, saying that the Chinese maneuvers were intended to show Tokyo and Washington that Beijing would not back down from a show of force.

From January 17 to 22, the U.S. Navy and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea south to Okinawa and to the east of Taiwan, media reports said.

Japan’s MSDF said its destroyer Hyuga took part in the drills while the U.S. Navy sent 10 vessels — including the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carriers — as well as a destroyer and an amphibious assault ship.

The latest Japan-U.S. joint exercise is apparently aimed at displaying their strong ties amid China’s increasing maritime activities, according to reports. Moreover, the massive show of American force is seen as a warning to China not to take “action” while the U.S. is preoccupied with the Russian military buildup against Ukraine, Nikkei Asia reported.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202201240006
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/01/25/2003772014
[3] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Indo-Pacific/China-sends-39-aircraft-into-Taiwan-ADIZ-countering-big-U.S.-drill

Reps. Tiffany and Perry Call on VP Harris to Meet with Taiwan Counterpart in Honduras

On January 20, Representatives Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and Scott Perry (R-PA) called on Vice President Kamala Harris to meet with her Taiwanese counterpart, William Lai, at the upcoming Honduran presidential inauguration.

Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai (or Lai Ching-te) departed from Taiwan on January 25 and arrived the same day in Los Angeles, where he stayed over for one day before traveling to Honduras to attend the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Xiomara Castro on January 27.

While in Honduras, Vice President Lai is expected to interact with foreign dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony, probably including Vice President Harris, who led the U.S. delegation at the event.

In a letter, Reps. Tiffany and Perry urged Harris to seize this opportunity to meet with Lai “in an official and public capacity” to reaffirm the U.S. “rock solid” support for Taiwan.

They argued that it is important for the U.S. to demonstrate its shared commitment to deepening economic and security cooperation with Taiwan at a time when China has been stepping up its military provocations in the Taiwan Strait and its “dollar diplomacy” efforts worldwide.

A Harris-Lai meeting in Honduras “would also help Taiwan cement its remaining diplomatic partnerships in Latin America” and send “a clear message that increasing Chinese influence in the region is unwelcome,” they said.

The lawmakers added that for many years, Washington has pursued a failed policy of allowing China to influence U.S. relations with democratic Taiwan, and that only emboldened Chinese aggressiveness and undermined U.S. credibility.

They noted that Congress passed the Taiwan Travel Act in 2018 with support from Harris, who was then a U.S. Senator. The act seeks to encourage high-level meetings between senior U.S. and Taiwanese officials, including the president and vice president.

The two Congressmen urged Vice President Harris to take this great opportunity now to build on that historic progress by meeting face-to-face with her Taiwanese counterpart during her visit to Honduras, and emphasized that the U.S. does not require any Chinese permission to talk to its friends and allies around the world.

[1] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4417420
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202201210007

Sen. Sullivan Introduces “STAND with Taiwan Act,” Calling for Crippling Economic Sanctions if China Invades Taiwan

On January 19, Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), introduced the “Sanctions Targeting Aggressors of Neighboring Democracies (STAND) with Taiwan Act of 2022” (S.3526), which would impose crippling, comprehensive economic and financial sanctions if China initiates a military invasion of democratic Taiwan.

“The suite of sanctions includes the targeting of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members and Chinese financial institutions and industrial sectors, as well as prohibiting U.S. financial institutions . . . from making any investments in a Chinese entity that benefits or is affiliated with the CCP.” “The bill would also prohibit the importation of certain goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly, or in part, in the People’s Republic of China,” Sen. Sullivan said in a press release, adding that Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

In a speech on the Senate floor on January 20, Sullivan warmed that according to the INDOPACOM commander, Admiral Philip Davidson, the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan “is manifest during this decade — in fact, in the next six years.” “Six years . . . . That is not a lot of time. The Senate needs to focus on this issue much more,” Sullivan added.

“Taiwan is not some peripheral sideshow in terms of global great power competition. It is the front line between freedom and tyranny, and like West Berlin was during the height of the Cold War, it matters everywhere,” he said.

The STAND with Taiwan Act “is a simple bill, but a very powerful one, especially in terms of its deterrent effect.” “It states that if the Chinese Communist Party initiates a military invasion of Taiwan, the United States shall impose a comprehensive suite of mandatory economic and financial sanctions,” and the bill “also calls on the United States to coordinate such comprehensive sanctions with our allies around the globe,” Sullivan said.

The bill’s goal is “to make very clear to [China’s] President Xi today the true cost of what such a military invasion of Taiwan would be, thereby heightening deterrence, which we all in the U.S. Senate support,” Sullivan said, adding that the bill “should receive broad bipartisan support” as in many ways “it reinforces the goals, policies and directives of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

[1] Sen. Sullivan’s Office: https://www.sullivan.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sullivan-introduces-stand-with-taiwan-act

Rep. Gallagher Introduces “Arm Taiwan Act” in House

On January 21, Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the “Arm Taiwan Act of 2022” (H.R.6443) in the Houses, aimed at strengthening Taiwan’s asymmetric defense capabilities against a Chinese invasion.

Under the proposed bill, the U.S. will strengthen Taiwan’s defenses against a Chinese invasion by allocating $3 billion each fiscal year from 2023 through 2027 for a new “Taiwan Security Assistance Initiative,” Rep. Gallagher said in a press release.

The funding will be conditional “on annual certification that Taiwan is matching U.S. investments in its asymmetric defenses, increasing defense spending, acquiring asymmetric defense capabilities as quickly as possible regardless of source, and implementing defense reforms, especially with regard to Taiwan’s reserve forces,” he added.

The act will also make Taiwan’s progress in preparing its military and fielding a credible asymmetric defense required to defeat China’s attack a condition for future U.S. conventional arms sales to Taiwan, he said.

“If the People’s Republic of China were to invade and seize control of Taiwan, it would deal a severe blow to United States interests by destroying one of the world’s leading democracies; casting doubt on the ability and resolve of the United States to uphold its security commitments; incentivizing other countries in the Indo-Pacific region to bandwagon with the People’s Republic of China; and facilitating the formation of a regional order dominated by the People’s Republic of China,” the act reads.

As China has become increasingly aggressive against Taiwan, “Congress needs to step up to restore deterrence before it is too late,” Gallagher said, adding that he is “proud to join Senator Hawley in introducing the Arm Taiwan Act to provide Taiwan with the necessary resources and weapons to defeat an attempted invasion.”

In November 2021, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced an identical “Arm Taiwan Act of 2021” (S.3131) in the Senate.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202201220004
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/01/23/2003771914