Pentagon, State Department Officials Say Continuing Aid To Ukraine Will Deter China

U.S. House Armed Services Committee / YouTube /

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Biden administration officials made the case to Congress Tuesday that sustaining military aid to Ukraine will dissuade China from attempting an invasion of Taiwan.

House lawmakers pressed officials from the State Department and Department of Defense (DOD) on the Pentagon’s policy regarding Taiwan as China appears to put increasing military and economic pressure on the democratically-ruled island in the South China Sea. The Biden administration claims to adhere to a policy of “integrated deterrence,” but conservative lawmakers and scholars are concerned that billions set aside in support for Ukraine have affected America’s ability to maintain strong deterrence in the Pacific.

“One way that we see we can deter the PRC is by demonstrating resolve for our support to Ukraine. And don’t trust me; senior Taiwan officials have said that Ukraine’s success against Russia will help deter aggression,” Mira Resnick, a deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs, told the Housed Armed Services Committee at the hearing. (RELATED: ‘That’s Really Dangerous’: Defense Official Sounds Alarm After China Fails To Pick Up Crisis Hotline)

Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, added, “We see them resisting PRC coercion every day.”

Democratic New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross had asked what actions, including providing certain defense articles to Taiwan, the U.S. might take that would trigger Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.

The third witness, Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, vice director for strategy, plans and policy at the Joint Staff, said he “could not tell you if there is a certain weapon or type of capability that would set them over a tipping point.”

Congress authorized $1 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), an authority the administration has leaned on dozens of times to send weapons to Ukraine, for Taiwan in fiscal year 2023, which terminates at the end of September, members said at the hearing. To date, the administration has only utilized $345 million in PDA, which allows the president to pull weapons directly from U.S. stockpiles.

Ratner explained that while Congress authorized the $1 billion, it did not specifically devote funds toward the authorization. The Pentagon came up with $345 million for the president to pull from on his own. He conceded the administration needs to better leverage the authorities Congress had given it. “To date we have those authorities which have not been appropriated against,” Ratner added.

Taiwanese leaders are reportedly concerned that a drop-off in U.S. support to Ukraine would signal decreased commitment to defending Taiwan if Beijing mounted a large-scale amphibious invasion.

“Ukraine’s survival is Taiwan’s survival. Ukraine’s success is Taiwan’s success,” Taiwan’s representative in Washington, Bi-khim Hsiao, said at the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum in May. “Our futures are closely linked.”

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army would encounter “a population that we believe would be willing to fight … there is absolutely nothing easy about a PLA invasion of Taiwan,” McGee said.

The “PLA is trying to execute a rapid low-cost invasion,” Ratner said. “We are trying to make sure it is too costly.”

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