In a recent interview with Voice of America, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), a Republican U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, said that Washington’s strategic patience with Beijing has been useless in light of historical results. Perry said experts differ on when or whether China will violate Taiwan by force, but there is no doubt that Chinese Communist belligerence in the Taiwan Strait and throughout the Indo-Pacific region is increasing. According to Perry, the U.S. “silence and absence” in cross-strait relations is a provocation to China because it would open a “window of opportunity” for Beijing to launch an offensive push.
“You think you can buy some time and the crocodile will eat you last, but if you keep feeding it, the crocodile will still eat you sooner or later,” Rep. Perry said in an interview with the Voice of America via video on April 8. Perry called on China to take concrete steps to further demonstrate U.S. support for Taiwan in order to curb the aggressive actions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as China has recently raised military tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
Congressman Perry said the pandemic has opened the eyes of the United States to the malicious behavior of China. He also said he expects bipartisan cooperation across the aisle in Congress on how to confront the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts next.
The following is the full text of the interview (some text has been slightly abridged in translation for fluency)
Reporter: I’m joined today by Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Perry. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Congressman Perry, thank you very much for the interview with Voice of America, welcome.
Congressman Perry: Thank you very much, and thank you, Voice of America, for letting people around the world know what it’s like to be free, and for letting people know a lot of things that they wouldn’t know in their own country. Thank you.
Reporter: Thank you. I want to start with a bill you introduced recently, the Taiwan PLUS Act, which supports the inclusion of Taiwan as a member of NATO Plus Five, can you start by talking about why that’s important? What else is important about this bill?
Rep. Perry: Some of the major elements are some timelines and some financial restrictions. What I want to do is make sure that the Chinese Communist Party, Taiwan and the world knows that we support Taiwan. We want to give the president the flexibility to support Taiwan militarily, by shortening the timeline requirements, reducing the reporting requirements, or reducing the requirements needed to request additional military resources, etc. Right now the threshold is kind of pretty low, but if the president wants to provide assistance to Taiwan in terms of military equipment, the president has to go through Congress first, and if Taiwan wants to buy military equipment from the United States, it has to go through specific criteria, he (the president) has to go to Congress first, and then, of course, there’s a time delay and it takes time to communicate, and during that time, there’s a possibility that the Chinese Communist Party could take action against Taiwan. We don’t want that to happen, we want the president to have the immediate flexibility to assist Taiwan, to
We want the Chinese Communist Party to know, we want Taiwan to know, that we support Taiwan by doing that. We want the world to know which side we’re supporting between Taiwan and China. Those are the general elements in the bill.
NATO countries already have (these flexibilities), some other countries around the world have them, New Zealand has them, Australia has them, Japan has them, and we’ve had them in the past for Jordan for some specific reasons. In fact, the bill has a three-year sunset provision, but now that China is saber-rattling and flying into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone at an unprecedented level, we need to send a very clear signal to the Communist Party and the leadership in Taiwan about where we stand, and this bill would do that.
“Pacific Deterrence Initiative Helps Focus U.S. Strategy and Tactics on China
Reporter: We’ve heard a lot of discussion recently about the possibility and likelihood of military conflict across the Taiwan Strait, and Admiral Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, recently said that Taiwan could face a Chinese military attack within six years, although there are different accounts of this timeline. And what is the strategic importance of Taiwan to the United States?
Rep. Perry: As you mentioned, there are differing views in various quarters as to when the Chinese Communist Party will act against Taiwan as a result of military action. But what need not be disputed is the Chinese Communist Party’s belligerent actions and other actions against Taiwan. And also, there is no doubt that if the Chinese Communist Party believes that a window of opportunity has come and that whatever oppressive action they take will not be strongly opposed, then they will take advantage of it. We’ve seen that recently in Hong Kong. So we want to be prepared, we want to send the signal that we stand with our ally Taiwan and we’re prepared to do something about it.
The U.S.-Taiwan relationship is critical to the United States and to the free world for many reasons, certainly freedom of navigation, free and open shipping lanes in the Taiwan Strait, but not only does it stop there, but our relationship with Taiwan and other U.S. allies in the neighborhood, and indeed U.S. allies around the world, everybody has to know that when the United States says they’re going to be with you, they’re really going to be with you, they’re reliable. This is an opportunity for the United States to be able to demonstrate that in a meaningful way, and we need to be ready for that.
Reporter: The Pentagon has been calling on Congress to adequately fund the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year, how will the PDI help increase U.S. presence and strength in the Indo-Pacific region?
Rep. Perry: Again, I think it will focus our attention right on our strategic and tactical adversary, the Chinese Communist Party, and show the rest of the world, not just the diplomatic community, but the defense industry, the U.S. and international business and commercial community, our focus by betting on research funding, allocating resources, and other efforts, so it’s not just tangible, but it’s another way of saying where the United States stands and what we’re willing to do. In other words, backing up our narrative with action, which I think the United States absolutely needs to do.
I hope this will have bipartisan support, there are many things in Congress that we disagree with each other on, there are some things in Congress that we disagree with the executive branch on, but in this particular case, it would be great if we could stand firmly and unanimously behind the executive branch and also show the rest of the world that we are serious when it comes to our relationship with Taiwan, when it comes to confronting the Chinese Communist Party.
“The crocodile will eat you sooner or later” Doing nothing instead encourages China to act
Reporter: One more question related to Taiwan, some people are concerned that over provoking China may end up hurting Taiwan instead, because one of the ways China retaliates against Washington’s relationship with Taiwan is by taking out its anger on Taiwan. What is your view on this? How firm is the United States in defending Taiwan?
Congressman Perry: We will know how committed the United States is to this by taking these actions, and there are many actions that we can take, whether it’s the Taiwan Plus Act, whether it’s the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, we have many opportunities to show the people of Taiwan, the free government and the free people of Taiwan that we are united with them, so we should absolutely do that.
As far as the question about provoking China, there will always be apologists who say we need to use strategic patience as a policy, as a strategy and as a means to an end, but that approach has never worked. I mean, you can’t give me one example with me where that approach has ever worked. If you simply refuse to acknowledge and respond to what the militant states are doing, you are encouraging the militant states. Your absence and silence is provocative, and you’re prompting them to take more action, and they see weakness, inaction. So it’s not just some apologists in the West who are advocating restraint; the Chinese Communist Party and their propaganda also say that the United States should exercise restraint. The Chinese Communist Party, of course, wants us to restrain ourselves so they can get on with what they want to do. Incidentally, for those who advocate that policy position, China will still blame us no matter what the United States does, and whether we respond, take the initiative, or remain patient, there is no benefit when China continues to oppress its neighbors, including Taiwan.
There is never any benefit to allowing an oppressive regime, a dictatorship and a criminal organization to do whatever it wants. You may think you can buy some time and hope the crocodile will eat you last, but if you continue to feed it, the crocodile will still eat you sooner or later. It’s in your better interest to realize this sooner and then take action afterwards.
Pandemic wakes up U.S. to China’s malicious behavior
Reporter: Next, let’s talk about China. The Senate is now considering a major investment bill that would significantly strengthen supply chain manufacturing and some technology development, can you share with us what you’ve learned? Would you support a bill like that?
Rep. Perry: We’ll have to see what’s in the bill first. We certainly want to bring the supply chain back to the United States, but I think the best approach is to provide incentives for companies to come back, not to enforce mandatory decrees. The best approach is through tax policy, regulatory policy. You’ve seen that in the last administration, including tariffs and other practices, and I’m not a proponent of broad-based tariffs, but specific targeted tariffs can make a key difference, and taking a hard line on China in that regard has made a difference, and that’s seen results in the last administration. If that’s really successful, I think we should continue it. I’m certainly willing to look at Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s legislation and keep an open mind that we want to do everything we can to bring the supply chain back to the United States.
I think this pandemic has opened the eyes not only of the United States, but the eyes of the world to the malicious behavior of China, including intellectual property theft, and generally deceptive practices in the trade arena, including supply chains, and trying to crowd out markets through dumping and so forth to ensure that there is no competition in the marketplace. So I think we need to be highly concerned about this. Let’s not be partisan about this, let’s all unite together, Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, independents, whatever you are, because we should have to know that on this topic, we should be on the same side, working together and putting aside our differences. We must be united in policy, ideology and action against the Chinese Communist Party.
Promoting America First Policy “The executive branch cannot have any sympathy for the Chinese Communist Party”
Reporter: The Biden administration is reevaluating many of its policies toward China. Are there any specific policies you would like the Biden administration to continue? How do you evaluate the new administration’s policy toward the Communist Party of China once it takes office?
Rep. Perry: I think there’s only a lot of discussion at this point, but not a lot of action. Their personnel appointments, the Biden administration’s appointments at the cabinet level, you don’t need to hear what I have to say about them, but you can go look at their resumes. Unfortunately, the Biden administration from the very top to the entire system is filled with individuals who have close financial and policy ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and that’s very, very troubling. There are a number of cabinet nominees that I would not support if I were in the Senate for that very (China-linked) reason.
We can’t have any sympathy in the executive branch for the Chinese Communist Party and their goals, and we must not have a China-first policy, we must have an America-first policy that excludes the Chinese Communist Party. Also very specifically, I hope that the Biden administration and the legislative branch will consider accepting my proposal to classify the Chinese Communist Party as a transnational criminal organization. Whether it’s fentanyl being funneled through our southern border or through the U.S. mail to our towns and communities, or unfair trade practices, or intellectual property theft, or belligerent acts against China’s neighboring allies and friends, and building islands for military purposes, all of these acts lead to what I call transnational criminal organizations, and I think they absolutely fit that definition.
I also think we should stop being fooled and hope that the Chinese Communist Party will change their behavior, those human rights violations, that we’re actually doing business with the Communist Party leadership that has put Uighurs in concentration camps, forced sterilization of Chinese women, forced organ harvesting. This is not a regime that we should be doing business with, and the sooner we recognize and understand that fact, the sooner we can make sure that the world knows that we are isolating China, the Chinese Communist Party, and that we are beginning to change their behavior and bring them into the fold of the world of democratic nations.
Can there be a return to the good old days?
Reporter: You mentioned a number of topics that are quite worrisome. Intellectual property theft, espionage, unfair trade practices, human rights abuses, what are your biggest concerns about China? Do you still think it’s possible for the U.S. and China to go back to the good old days?
Rep. Perry: Of course, there is always the possibility of that, but it won’t be in a situation where the Chinese Communist Party is oppressing its own people and its neighbors, and things won’t be the same. I think that through this pandemic, most Americans have awakened to the fact that most of us know that this is a brutal regime, this is a criminal organization that is leading a country, oppressing its citizens, and wants to rule the world. That’s what I’m worried about, and it’s bad for not only America, it’s bad for people around the globe who desire freedom, if we don’t always focus our attention on this issue and act on it.
There is no comparison between the attacks on Asians in the United States and the human rights issues in China
Reporter: One last question. From recent reports we have seen more and more hate crimes against Asian Americans, and some have criticized that anti-China arguments fuel the flames of anti-Asian hatred. Do you agree with this statement? How should we keep up the pressure on the Chinese Communist Party while avoiding those unintended consequences?
Rep. Perry: Yes, any attack against Asian citizens, in fact, any attack against any kind of racial descent is deplorable and unacceptable and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but don’t be fooled that this is Chinese propaganda, using what’s happening in America to attack us. There is absolutely no moral comparison, a free society that tries to be perfect, tries to be more united every day, has reasonable doubts about its own weaknesses, some people in America commit hate crimes, but this is nothing comparable to communist, authoritarian and criminal regimes. Again, there’s no comparison to forced birth control, interning people in concentration camps, and engaging in things like forced organ harvesting, not to mention espionage, intellectual property theft, and the other things you just mentioned.
And frankly, it’s ridiculous that Chinese negotiators would take this kind of propaganda to the international stage and think that it has a place among free speaking citizens around the world.
Reporter: Thank you very much, and that concludes our interview with Congressman Perry. Thank you, Congressman, for taking the time to share your views with us.
Rep. Perry: Thank you for the work that Voice of America is doing, and we’re happy to be here to support Voice of America and especially to stand together against the Chinese Communist Party. Thank you very much, may God bless you, stay safe, and have a great day.