In Taiwan, US lawmaker calls any Chinese invasion plans ‘foolish’

Gallagher, chair of the House Select Committee on China, said an invasion by China ‘would fail.’
By Alex Willemyns for RFA
2024.02.22
In Taiwan, US lawmaker calls any Chinese invasion plans ‘foolish’ Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, meets with Reps. Mike Gallagher, center, and Raja Krishnamoorthi in Taipei, Feb. 22, 2024.
Taiwan Presidential Office via AP

Any plans Chinese President Xi Jinping has to invade Taiwan are “foolish” and “would fail,” U.S. lawmaker and China hawk Mike Gallagher said during a trip to the democratic island on Thursday.

Beijing considers self-governing Taiwan to be a renegade province and has vowed to one day reunite the island with mainland China – by force if necessary. Some U.S. military leaders believe Xi may have plans to carry out an invasion or blockade as early as 2027.

The United States, though, maintains close unofficial ties with Taiwan, and since taking office U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly said American forces would come to its aid in case of an invasion.

On Thursday, Gallagher led a bipartisan delegation from the House Select Committee on China, which has spent the past year examining “the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” and said support would continue no matter which party held power in Washington.

“I see growing and extremely strong support for Taiwan,” Gallagher said before meeting with Taiwanese President-elect Lai Ching-te, who takes office in May after winning last month’s presidential election. Lai will succeed Tsai Ing-wen, who also attended Thursday’s talks.

“I am very confident that support for Taiwan will continue regardless of who occupies the White House,” Gallagher said, noting Democratic Party Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi was in Taipei alongside him.

Their trip was, he explained, to send a message “that if Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party were to ever make the incredibly foolish decision to attempt an invasion of Taiwan, that that effort would fail.”

Krishnamoorthi added that Congress “deeply believed” in Taiwan.

Sore spot

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters at a press briefing that Taiwan “is an inalienable part of China’s territory” and that the trip constituted interference by the United States and accused it of sending mixed signals on “Taiwan independence.”

“China opposes any form of official interaction between the U.S. and Taiwan authorities and rejects U.S. interference in Taiwan affairs in whatever form or under whatever pretext,” Mao said.

“We urge the U.S. to be mindful of the extreme complexity and sensitivity of the Taiwan question, abide by the ‘One China’ principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, prudently and properly handle issues relating to Taiwan, stop official contact with Taiwan and stop sending any wrong signal to the separatist forces,” she said.

ENG_CHN_Gallagher_02212024.2.jpg
Rep. Mike Gallagher, fourth from right, receives a chunlian, a traditional decoration bearing Chinese calligraphy that reads "Good luck to you," from Taiwan's Parliament Speaker Han Kuo-yu, fourth from left, at the Parliament in Taipei on Feb. 22, 2024. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

U.S.-China ties have been on the mend since a meeting between Biden and Xi that took place in San Francisco in November, with both pledging to cooperate where they can, even as they compete.

That thawing of ties came after months of bad blood between the world’s two biggest economies and military powers, which began when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

Taiwan’s government, for which Lai currently serves as the vice president, says it has no need to officially declare independence from China because, in practical terms, it already is independent from the mainland, a description that has only angered Beijing further.

Tsai, the outgoing president, said before Thursday’s meetings that the trip again showed “staunch support” of the United States for Taiwan’s democracy and highlighted the island’s growing global importance.

“The Taiwan of today plays a crucial role in upholding global peace and democracy,” Tsai told reporters. “We will continue to advance our international partnerships and engage with the world.

Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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