Congress warns China to chill during Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan

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REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

As rumors circulate that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress may fly to Taiwan in the coming days, China is threatening a powerful retaliation. But US lawmakers have their own message for China and President Xi Jinping: Don’t mess with us.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, warned that if China has learned any lessons from Russia’s war in Ukraine, Beijing should resign.

“China is playing with fire there if they learn the wrong lesson from Ukraine, if they think they can violently violate Taiwan’s territorial integrity so they don’t suffer reputational and economic damage,” Swalwell told The Daily Beast.

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According to Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, should know China better than to go after Taiwan or provide “strong” military responses to Pelosi’s visit.

“If China attacks Taiwan today… they will be in a world of pain,” Moulton told The Daily Beast.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but leaders around the world have responded by providing arms aid to Ukraine to thwart Russia and slow down the Russian economy through sanctions. Meanwhile, the Russian forces have failed and failed to achieve the main objectives in Ukraine.

Lawmakers’ warnings come as Pelosi’s potential trip nears: She would leave on Friday. And Chinese President Xi told President Joe Biden during a two-hour appeal Friday not to “play with fire” when it comes to Taiwan, according to Reuters.

But the lesson China needs to learn from Ukraine is that just as allies have rushed to help Ukraine, they will help Taiwan, according to Representative Gerrald Connolly (D-VA), a member of the US-China Working Group and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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“Certain resistance to naked aggression can be effective and can get a lot of supportive support,” Connolly said.

On what lessons China should learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) – the former Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the Obama administration – crystal clear.

“Don’t invade Taiwan,” Malinowski, now a member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security, told The Daily Beast.

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However, some lawmakers fear China may have learned the wrong lesson from Ukraine, assuming that with the annual increase in US defense aid to Taiwan, the longer China waits to invade, the harder it may be to catch up with Taiwan. .

Asked if he is sure that the United States and Taiwan are currently prepared to stop China from invading, Moulton told The Daily Beast that the outlook is not good.

“No. I think we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Moulton added that he hopes lawmakers and the Biden administration can take advantage of what they have learned from Ukraine and work on Taiwan’s preparations for a potential invasion. And he said he and the House Armed Services Committee were working “to push the government to respond appropriately so that we are better prepared to … deter and prevent an invasion of Taiwan than we were to deter and prevent invasion of Ukraine.”

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“What we want to do,” he continued, “is get to a place where they don’t even consider it.”

This year, the United States has already approved two air defense capabilities packages for Taiwan: one totaling $100 million and another totaling $95 million. Both packages were aimed at providing Taiwan with equipment, training and other services associated with the island’s Patriot Air Defense System.

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Biden has warned that the United States would respond “militarily” if China invaded Taiwan. The statement appeared to shed some light on America’s stance on Taiwan – while the United States recognizes China’s stance that Taiwan is part of China, it does not recognize China’s claim to Taiwan and has long taken a strategically ambiguous stance on whether to intervene with force if China were to attack.

But according to House Armed Services Committee Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD), there is a real concern that China may be better prepared than Russia for an invasion.

“Russia’s shortcomings in Ukraine are in large part due to its cumbersome organizational structure, heavy decision-making, its poor logistics trains, and I’m not sure we would see the same shortcomings in an offensive by China,” Brown told The Daily Beast. “I don’t think we would see the same kind of incompetence.”

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its preparatory work to attack Taiwan have been ringing alarm bells across the capital for years. The PLA has recently implemented major organizational reforms and modernization programs, and according to the Defense Ministry’s Annual Report on China’s Military Competence, the PLA has focused on developing capabilities to deter intervention in an invasion of Taiwan and to beat third parties.”

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According to US intelligence assessments, Beijing is expected to continue to pressure Taiwan to move towards unification, and is in a reactionary phase when it comes to US involvement in Taiwan.

While many members of Congress believe that China should not dictate Pelosi’s travel plans, concerns about China’s military capabilities — and its willingness to go after Taiwan — are currently looming as Pelosi’s trip is on the line.

Of course, there’s still a lot to see: Pelosi’s office met this week to debate the trip to Taiwan amid the national security implications, and has tentatively marked the trip as “tentative,” according to NBC News.

According to Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, China’s threats could simply be brutal — deployed as a way to get its way and sideline US officials on Taiwanese issues.

“These … descriptions of fear China is showing are just a bunch of nonsense,” Gallego said, pointing to his support for Pelosi’s visit. “We shouldn’t play their game.”

In the end, according to Malinowski, China should not be the one in control.

“I’m concerned about the precedent if a trip didn’t happen because China has made threats,” he said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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