Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Thursday called for a new US policy on what would happen in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Currently, the US arms Taiwan through weapons sales and maintains a policy known as “strategic ambiguity,” which means the US is not guaranteed to intervene if Beijing moves to take the island.
Cotton said he wants to make it “crystal clear” that a Chinese incursion on Taiwan means war with the US. “The United States needs to be clear that we will not allow China to invade Taiwan and subjugate it. Case closed. No further debate,” he said at a Reagan Institute event.
“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 added.
The hawkish senator said the US should establish “red lines” for China that would “require a response” from Washington. Examples of Cotton’s red lines include China seizing Taiwanese-claimed islands, a Chinese invasion of a regional ally like India, or if Beijing permits an attack on US troops or allies by North Korea.
Cotton made the comments while he presented his plan to take on Beijing economically. In the plan, Cotton called for an economic decoupling from China. “Our economy has become far too entangled with China’s, providing the Chinese Communist Party with leverage over the US government and industry. It’s past time we decoupled from China,” he said.
Cotton’s report came after the US Chamber of Commerce released a study that said the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would see a one-time loss of as much as $500 billion if US companies halved foreign direct investment in China. Besides the hit to the US’s GDP, decoupling with China would give Washington and Beijing less reason not to go to war if a naval incident happens in the South China Sea, where the US has stepped up its military presence and frequently sails warships.