Taiwan should expect a “resolute reaction” from the US if China attacks the island, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) vowed on Friday while leading a congressional delegation in Taipei.
“Know that any hostile unprovoked attack on Taiwan will result in a resolute reaction from the US,” Wittman said ahead of a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
On X, formerly known as Twitter, Wittman said China’s “unprovoked aggression toward Taiwan is a threat to the rest of the free world.”
While Wittman is describing China’s increasing military pressure on Taiwan as “unprovoked,” it has come in direct response to the US boosting both military and diplomatic support for the island.
The most obvious example was when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan in August 2022, provoking the largest-ever Chinese military exercises around the island. Since then, China has kept up the pressure and regularly sends planes across the median line, an informal barrier that separates the two sides of the Taiwan Strait that Beijing generally avoided crossing before Pelosi’s visit.
China is strongly opposed to congressional delegations visiting Taiwan and all contacts between US and Taiwanese officials.
While President Biden has previously vowed to send troops to defend Taiwan if China attacks, the US is not obligated to intervene as Washington terminated its mutual defense treaty with Taipei in 1980 as part of its normalization of relations with Beijing. In recent years, China hawks have been calling to change the decades-old policy of strategic ambiguity on the issue to strategic clarity, which would make war with a nuclear power much more likely.
China hawks are also calling to arm Taiwan “to the teeth” to deter a Chinese invasion. Wittman said the US must work to fulfill arms deals with Taiwan. “We have an obligation to make sure that we fill the backlog of foreign military sales that exist now between our countries,” he said.
The US recently announced new forms of military aid for Taiwan, which is unprecedented since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979. The US has always sold weapons to Taiwan but has never financed the purchases or provided them free of charge until this year.