Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy, said Tuesday that a Chinese “act of aggression” against Taiwan would likely see a global response similar to what the US and its allies have done in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Potential adversaries and aggressors everywhere else in the world are looking at the global response in Ukraine,” Kahl said at an event hosted by the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the US has led a Western sanctions campaign aimed at isolating the Russian economy. The Biden administration likes to portray this campaign as a global one, but a significant number of countries have not followed, including China, India, Brazil, and many African nations.
As things stand today, the US would not be able to put China under heavy sanctions as the American and Chinese economies are so intertwined. While there are efforts to reduce dependence on China, a real decoupling, which some hawks are calling for, could take decades.
But Kahl’s comments suggest that the US would be willing to fund a proxy war against China in Taiwan as it has in Ukraine by shipping billions of dollars worth of weapons into the war zone. Washington has sold weapons to Taipei since severing diplomatic relations in 1979, but the military support is nowhere near what the US is providing Ukraine today.
Tensions have been rising between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan as the US has been increasing support for Taiwan in recent years. China has no interest in invading Taiwan as it maintains a robust trade relationship with the island, but Chinese officials have made clear US that Taiwanese “independence” encouraged by the US is a red line.