TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Senator Tom Cotton on Thursday (Feb. 18) said it is time for the U.S. to make it "crystal clear" that it will not permit China to invade Taiwan.
While delivering remarks at the Reagan Institute elaborating on his economic strategy against China on Thursday, Cotton said the U.S. must take action to counter China's increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan.
On Jan. 23, amid multiple incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the U.S. reaffirmed its support for Taiwan, with the State Department saying, “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives."
During his speech on Thursday, Cotton, who is a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: “The United States needs to be clear that we will not allow China to invade Taiwan and subjugate it. Case closed. No further debate," Defense News quoted Cotton as saying. In an apparent reference to President Joe Biden's history of embracing strategic ambiguity when it comes to Taiwan, Cotton called for the adoption of "strategic clarity."
“I think the time has come to be clear: Replace strategic ambiguity with strategic clarity that the United States will come to the aid of Taiwan if China was to forcefully invade Taiwan or otherwise change the status quo across the [Taiwan] Strait."
Cotton then called on the U.S. to create “clear red lines that will require a response by the United States.” Examples of such red lines would be China's seizure of any islands claimed by Taiwan or Japan, invasion of allies such as India, or attacks on U.S. troops by North Korea.
His suggestion to designate the seizure of Taiwan's outlying islands as a red line that cannot be crossed is significant because China in May last year threatened to seize the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Islands (Pratas Islands, 東沙群島). At the time it was massing troops under the guise of military exercises off the coast of Hainan Island.
Many of the incursions by China's warplanes and spy planes over Taiwan's ADIZ since September 2020 have taken place near the Dongsha Islands, stoking fears of a Chinese assault on the islands, where Taiwan's Marine "Iron Force" stands guard.