The US should help Taiwan boost its defense capability to prevent China from launching an invasion, US Senator Marco Rubio said on Wednesday amid rising military coercion by Beijing toward Taipei.
Speaking during a Hudson Institute event at which he shared his views on US foreign policy and world affairs, the Republican senator and vocal critic of China’s human rights record said that he believes Beijing will eventually use force to take over Taiwan when asked by the event’s host if Taiwan might become a “flashpoint in US-China relations.”
The number of people in Taiwan and the US who oppose being linked to China has risen in the past few years, Rubio said.
Since last month, Washington has sent two senior officials to Taipei, Rubio said, referring to visits by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach.
At the same time China has been sending warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone “as a messaging exercise,” Rubio said.
“I do believe that eventually it is a red-line issue for China, and eventually, if necessary, they will move by force to exert their claims on Taiwan,” he said. “The only thing that would prevent that from happening is if the cost of doing that is too high.”
Helping Taiwan to win an all-out conflict against China would not be a way to reach that goal, he said, adding: “That’s not possible.”
Instead, Washington should assist Taipei “to have the capability to raise the cost of military adventurism there to a level that China’s not willing to pay, and navigate that very carefully in an effort not to try to trigger a conflict like that from happening,” he said.
This would be “the best hope that we have” to manage the situation, he said, adding that the path would be a “challenging and tricky one.”
The US should navigate carefully and not be overly provocative, as this could invite Chinese action in the next decade, Rubio said.
The Chinese military has continued to increase the frequency and level of its military coercion toward Taiwan.
On Wednesday, two Chinese Y-8 anti-submarine airplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, the sixth intrusion of its kind in eight days since Wednesday last week.
Also on Wednesday, in a speech to state lawmakers in Wisconsin, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China’s attempts to exercise influence on the US government and its politics.
In a speech at the Wisconsin State Capitol, Pompeo said that the US has watched the Chinese Communist Party lobby state-level officials and local interests.
“They have been in full swing for years and they’re increasing in intensity,” he said.
“Much of that activity revolves around pressing state governments not to recognize, trade with, or otherwise engage with Taiwan,” he said, without elaborating.
Separately, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten urged the international community to allow Taiwan to attend next year’s World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO, as an observer.
During a meeting with Hoover Institution director Condoleezza Rice, Patten said that the world would fare better in the fight against COVID-19 if China could curb the pandemic as successfully as Taiwan, which has demonstrated medical professionalism in containing the virus.
Supporting Taiwan to join the WHA is not about breaking the so-called “one China” policy, he said, adding that the world should push China to treat Taiwan in a more civilized manner.
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