Republican presidential candidates are wary of committing to sending U.S. forces to Taiwan in the wake of a Chinese attack, telling the Daily Caller that they would not go as far as President Joe Biden’s promise to defend the island nation.
Biden has repeatedly said the U.S. would intervene militarily if China moved against Taiwan, which the Chinese communist government considers a rebel province. The White House has stressed that Biden’s remarks do not represent a departure from America’s longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan and that the U.S. still adheres to the “One China Policy.” (RELATED: Biden Admin Prepping Plans To Evacuate Americans From Taiwan: REPORT)
In conversations with the Daily Caller, the campaigns of most Republican presidential candidates did not voice support for sending U.S. troops. Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declined to provide comment. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott emphasized deterrence. Four GOP hopefuls — Vivek Ramaswamy, Larry Elder, Mike Pence and Asa Hutchinson — said directly that they would be open to potentially sending the U.S. military to defend Taiwan.
Ramaswamy has said he would “intervene militarily so long as the U.S. is still dependent on Taiwan for semiconductors,” but “has not said whether that will be boots on the ground or what that would look like,” Tricia McLaughlin, a spokesperson for Ramaswamy, told the Caller. The conservative entrepreneur has also previously floated the idea of providing Taiwanese civilians with AR-15 rifles and firearms training.
Here’s how we protect Taiwan without going to war with China: open a branch of the @NRA in Taiwan, put an AR-15 in the hands of every family, and train them how to use it. That’ll give Xi Jinping a taste of American exceptionalism. pic.twitter.com/jLjcown8r2
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) June 4, 2023
Elder told the Caller that he “would not tie our hands by making a commitment now for a hypothetical situation in the future, but all options would be on the table.”
The former vice president supports ensuring the U.S. military has the posture to defend Taiwan, Pence spokesperson Devin O’Malley told the Caller.
O’Malley explained that Pence supports “ensuring a military force ready for great power competition with the Chinese Communist Party and a resurgent Russia, and posture to defend both NATO’s eastern flank and Taiwan” by expanding the Navy and “bolstering our strategic presence in the region, including by reinforcing strategic alliances with partners in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.”
Hutchinson said, “I support sending a clear and unambiguous message to China that the United States will not accept an assault on Taiwan’s freedom and territory. To that end, we will vigorously support and provide military aid to Taiwan to help Taiwan defend itself.”
“We should make it clear that the United States reserves the right to deploy American military forces if we conclude that those forces could help Taiwan defend itself. We will stand with Taiwan and other allies in the Indo-Pacific region. It is critical that China knows that any aggression will be answered with a robust American response,” the former Arkansas governor added.
Haley has explicitly said she would not support Biden’s commitment.
“No, what I will tell you is, we are going to make sure they have the equipment, the ammunition and the training to win themselves,” Haley said during a CNN town hall.
“Nikki Haley has always insisted that America stand by our allies, from Israel to Ukraine to Taiwan. Our policy should be to prevent war in Taiwan from ever happening. That means providing Taiwan with the weapons it needs to defend itself from Chinese aggression and it means making sure the U.S. naval presence in the Taiwan Strait remains strong,” Ken Farnaso, spokesman for Haley, told the Caller.
Burgum, who launched his presidential campaign on June 7, took a position similar to Haley’s, though without explicitly ruling out a U.S. military response.
“Our objective should be to deter China from attacking Taiwan in the first place by preparing to defend Taiwan and win if necessary. That requires an intense focus on economic statecraft as well as military deterrence in a manner we don’t see today from this administration,” Burgum told the Caller.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has previously refused to answer to the hypothetical question of how he would react to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, but has also said that the U.S. must “continue to provide the resources to the Taiwanese military” and that “we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Taiwanese government and the military when it comes to defending what we believe is our ally.” (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Lands In Taiwan Amid Threats From China)
Experts have predicted that China will attack Taiwan in the near future, with former chief of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Philip Davidson saying the Communist power will try to take the island by 2027. Half of Americans polled believe a war between the U.S. and China is “likely.”