Republican Lawmaker: Biden Officials Say Changing Taiwan Strait Strategy Ambiguity Will Create Instability Is Attaching to Communist China

Senior officials in the Biden administration recently said that if the United States were to abandon “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan security issues, it would create instability in the Taiwan Strait. In response, Republican members of Congress criticized such a statement as an echo of the narrative that China’s Communist government is trying to promote.

Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Steve Chabot (R-Texas), the ranking Republican member of the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee, said that Kurt Campbell (R-Texas), coordinator of Indo-Pacific affairs for the White House National Security Council, and Avril Haines (R-Texas), director of national intelligence, have successively said that the U.S. has made a clear commitment to Taiwan’s security to the detriment of the United States, and that their statement is worrisome. The two lawmakers said it is China, not the United States or Taiwan, that is causing tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

In a statement released Tuesday (May 11), the two congressmen said that while the People’s Republic of China has increased its aggressive military actions against Taiwan, Campbell and Haynes believe that making the U.S. commitment to supporting Taiwan’s security and defense clear would be destabilizing.

The statement said, “It is the belligerence of the Chinese Communist Party that is increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, not U.S. deterrence efforts directed at attacking Taiwan, much less Taiwan’s desire to remain a free nation. We are deeply concerned by the contention of some of our senior national security officials that modernizing our Taiwan policy would be a provocation. Not only does this diverge sharply from the analysis of our military commanders, but it is precisely the narrative that the CCP seeks to advance. Reality demands bold leadership to maintain deterrence, not anxiety that we might upset the balance that the CCP has been upsetting for the past several years.”

China has been increasing the frequency of its military activities around Taiwan for some time.

In late April, when asked if the induction of a Chinese Navy amphibious assault ship was a substantive preparation for armed unification of Taiwan, Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of Defense, claimed, “We will never leave any room for any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist activities. We always insist on being fully prepared to deal with interference by external forces and ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist activities.”

In March, Adm. Philip Davidson, then commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned at a congressional hearing before he left office that China could take military action against Taiwan within six years and that while a policy of strategic ambiguity has maintained the status quo in the Taiwan Strait for decades, such a policy should be routinely rethought.

In response to a question about “strategic ambiguity” versus “strategic clarity” from Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of National Intelligence Haynes said at a hearing in late April that if the United States “change from strategic ambiguity to strategic clarity and a willingness to intervene when things might go wrong in Taiwan, China would see that as very destabilizing” and would also see the U.S. as bent on containing China’s rise, which could lead Beijing to undermine U.S. interests even more around the world.

In response to the question of whether the U.S. should give Taiwan clearer security assurances and replace “strategic ambiguity” with a “strategic clarity” policy, White House Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Campbell also told a Financial Times forum last week that both the U.S. and China believe that Both the United States and China believe that it is in each other’s best interest to maintain some degree of status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and that there would be “significant disadvantages” to a clear strategic approach.

Campbell said that while the situation in the Taiwan Strait is certainly worrisome, especially in the wake of China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, and many are concerned that China may act against Taiwan thinking there are no consequences, he believes the best way to maintain peace and stability is through diplomacy, defense innovation and America’s own ability to “send a consistent signal to the Chinese leadership that they will not consider some kind of ambitious or dangerous provocation in the future. Because any conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan would not be confined to a small geographic area, it would rapidly expand and fundamentally disrupt the global economy with consequences that no one could have predicted.