Congress doubts U.S. ability to stop China from invading Taiwan

The Pentagon has promised to deploy such military power in the Indo-Pacific region in 2023 that China would not even think of invading Taiwan, writes Politico. However, Republican lawmakers have questioned whether that task will be accomplished

Republican lawmakers were skeptical of the Pentagon’s promise to deploy such military might in the Indo-Pacific region in 2023 that China would not even think of invading Taiwan (Beijing considers the island its breakaway province), Politico writes.

Eli Ratner, the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for regional security, has assured that 2023 would be “the year of the most significant transformation in the U.S. balance of power in the region in a generation. He said the country’s military presence in the region will become “more lethal, more mobile and more sustainable.”

Lawmakers, however, believe the United States is overdue. Beijing now has a large enough navy to “challenge the longstanding U.S. naval dominance in the Indo-Pacific,” the paper notes. In addition, the transfer of U.S. weapons to Taiwan, including Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Stinger surface-to-air missile systems, has been delayed because of supply chain problems related to the pandemic and the worsening conflict in Ukraine. China’s navy currently has 340 warships, while the U.S. has 292, Politico points out.

“We have a rhetorical commitment to change the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, but it’s contrary to what’s actually happening,” said Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher, who is scheduled to chair a special committee on PRC-related issues in the new Congress. “Until you make all this talk about arming Taiwan a reality, you’re going to be in a precarious position,” he said. U.S. moves are not enough to change the balance of power in the Pacific in its favor, Republican Don Bacon also believes.

In addition, most of the countries of Southeast Asia would probably not want to support the U.S. in case of a conflict with China, fearing a response from the latter, the newspaper said.

In late November, The Wall Street Journal wrote about Washington’s fears that the U.S. would not be able to supply arms to Taiwan in time because of its assistance to Ukraine. In particular, the island still has not received 208 Javelin anti-tank systems and 215 Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems, the order for which was received back in December 2015, the newspaper pointed out.