Rebecca Grant: Biden's Taiwan options – 5 crucial steps to deter China

Cotton: US allowing ‘China to annex, invade’ Taiwan would be catastrophe of ‘historic proportions’

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., weighs in on growing China-Taiwan conflict.

President Joe Biden might let Taiwan slip away just like Afghanistan. On Saturday Oct. 9, China’s President Xi Jinping said reunification with Taiwan “must happen and will happen.” 

No, no, no.  Taiwan must stand as an independent country or we might as well hand China the rest of the Pacific now. 

It’s been a tough month with China and Taiwan. You heard about the 150 Chinese combat planes flying into Taiwan airspace in 4 days, including “gorilla packages” of 38 jets, meant to simulate wartime air attack. 

Make no mistake: the U.S. is already involved.  On Oct. 7, the Wall Street Journal and Politico confirmed small teams of U.S. Marines and special operations forces are on Taiwan for training.  “See whether the PLA will launch a targeted airstrike to eliminate those US invaders,” snarled China’s state-run Global Times.

Marines on Taiwan are a good start, but the escalating military activity by China suggests a risks war in the Pacific. 

And that puts America in a tough spot.  Wargames run by the U.S. military show it’s almost impossible to stop a mass amphibious invasion by China, unless American forces and allies are already on scene. Also consider this.  After Biden lost Afghanistan, it wouldn’t surprise me if China is thinking about a swift air attack or just landing troops at the airport and declaring Taiwan is reunified with China. 

President Biden can’t waste the chance to deter China and prevent a fight in the Pacific.  Here are five crucial steps: 

1. Add more Marines, Army and Air Force personnel for training with Taiwan’s forces.  Rotating US military forces through Taiwan for exercises are the best way to deter China.  It worked in Europe.  Tripwire forces have two effects: they prepare Taiwan and allies to respond faster, and their presence raises the cost of starting a war.  Xi Jinping doesn’t want to run over U.S. Marines to take Taipei in a coup. That’s deterrence.  Since China has zero recent combat experience, U.S. deterrence moves must be clear and unmistakable.

2. Recognize Taiwan. On Oct. 6, four U.S. Congressmen called for full recognition of Taiwan.  They have the right idea.  Taiwan has 23 million people and the world’s 21st largest economy but Taiwan was dumped out of the United Nations to favor China back in the 1970s.  “No major power will dare openly recognize Taiwan as an independent sovereign state,” the mouthpiece Global Times taunted on Oct. 10.  Here’s a golden opportunity for Biden to regain some international respect.  He should recognize Taiwan and tell China to stuff it. 

3. Speed up arms sales. Taiwan is buying new F-16V fighter planes, Abrams tanks, MQ-9 Reaper surveillance and attack drones, and of course, Patriot air defense missiles.  Taiwan would like the ultra-sophisticated F-35s, too.  Trump approved the sales and Biden has continued them, but manufacturing takes time.  Taiwan won’t get all the planes until 2026.  Taiwan should move to the head of the line.

4. Call out China’s reckless nuclear build-up.  China is on track to double or triple its nuclear weapons arsenal.  This is astonishing.  China is also building new, fast breeder reactor nuclear power plants that can yield oodles of weapons-grade plutonium, according to Adm. Charles Richard, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command. 

China kept only a small nuclear missile force during the Cold War, so the build-up is a big and destabilizing change.  Biden should call China out to the world, especially since China refuses to participate in nuclear arms control. 

5. Give up the go-slow appeasement policy handcuffing U.S. forces in the Pacific.  On Oct. 6, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told his Chinese counterpart America wants “responsible competition” and “open lines of communication.” 

This typical Team Biden lingo is too weak.  Behind the scenes, administration officials have also leaned on military commanders not to provoke the Chinese and to play down routine force moves.  This is no way to build up deterrence.  Words count.  Team Biden needs a clear and forceful stand. 

Expect China to be furious if Biden takes any of these steps.  Face it, China is mad about everything America does, all the time.  That is one angry regime. 

Time is running out to back down the threats from China and preserve America. 

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