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As China’s Shadow Lengthens, The United States Must Help Taiwan Prepare To Defend Itself

Taiwan's military gives a salute
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The Chinese Communist Party is open about its imperial ambitions. Chinese leader Xi Jinping calls explicitly for “the transformation of the global governance system”—which means China in charge of the Asian Pacific and, ultimately, the world.

America must act now to stop it. Our economic prosperity, no less than our national security, depends on it. A China that bestrides the Pacific would make today’s supply chain woes look pleasant. A China able to control global trade would only further hollow out American industry, and further devastate the working people who depend on it. The key to halting these grim possibilities is Taiwan.

America cannot afford to live in China’s shadow. We already know what the CCP model looks like: the regime controls its citizenry with a massive surveillance apparatus, lies about its bloody past and present, and persecutes Muslims and Christians alike who challenge its claims to absolute authority. Left to its own devices, China will seek to export that biopolitical nightmare around the globe.

With each passing day, the scope and scale of the CCP’s vision become clearer. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that China plans to construct a military base in the African nation of Equatorial Guinea, providing it permanent access to the Atlantic Ocean, and hence to America’s eastern coast.

Already, the CCP is using its power to distort daily American life. NBA teams and players pander to CCP denialism about the oppression of the Uyghur people, and Hollywood screenwriters revise their stories to placate Chinese censors.

Those pressures will increase exponentially if China’s power is left unchecked. And that’s saying nothing of the consequences for ordinary Americans if China gains even greater control over global markets, allowing it to throttle supply chains and drive up prices in the United States.

The end result is a world where Chinese forces routinely patrol off the American coasts, U.S. forces abroad are constantly under threat from China or its vassals, and pervasive economic pressures keep American institutions from even acknowledging the situation. America cannot allow this international order to emerge.

But fortunately, we are not powerless. There is still time to take a stand, and we can begin with Taiwan.

Beijing desperately wants to swallow that small island nation whole. The Communists call it “national reunification,” their phrase for crushing Taiwan’s thriving democracy and subjugating it to Beijing’s control.

Domination of Taiwan is the cornerstone of Xi’s quest to remake the global order to the Chinese Communist Party’s liking. A successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan would not be the end of anything, but the beginning: a brutal takeover would vindicate Xi’s propaganda efforts, and permit the CCP to threaten in turn the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and other American allies. It would clear the way for Chinese hegemony in Asia, and with it the steady erosion of Americans’ prosperity, freedom, and sovereignty.

This fate isn’t a foregone conclusion. Taiwan and America, together, can and must stand up to the CCP’s imperial ambitions. We can start by passing two bills I’ve introduced—the Taiwan Defense Act and the Arm Taiwan Act.

The Taiwan Defense Act would require the U.S. Department of Defense to actually prioritize deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. This would not be necessary if the department had shown itself capable of focusing on this priority threat, rather than on the left’s cultural wars.

Instead, U.S. defense leaders have allowed China’s military might to grow unchecked while they prattle on about critical race theory and climate change. That failure increases the risk of war over Taiwan. The American people deserve a Defense Department that is focused on our actual national security, and that means deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

But the principal responsibility for defending Taiwan must rest with Taiwan. That’s why I’ve also introduced the Arm Taiwan Act, which would provide Taiwan up to $3 billion annually for five years to help the people of Taiwan arm themselves with the defenses critical to holding off a Chinese invasion force.

To be eligible for funds, though, Taiwan must increase its defense spending and match our investments. Taiwan must also commit to other necessary defense reforms to ensure American assistance is used as effectively as possible. These may not be easy decisions. But the United States cannot be expected to aid Taiwan if Taiwan will not do what is required to defend itself.

Throughout history, America has adopted an anti-imperialist foreign policy. Time and again, we have been called to thwart foreign adversaries’ attempts at empire-building. Now we are called to do so once again.

In the months and years to come, both America and Taiwan would do well to heed a famous Latin adage: Si vis pacem, para bellum—if you want peace, prepare for war. If we act now to prepare, Taiwan and America can stand up to Xi Jinping’s threats, and frustrate the CCP’s dreams of an Indo-Pacific imperium. But we must act now.