On Sunday, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham voiced concerns about a possible Chinese blockade of Taiwan. The blockade would be a test of the United States and could align with the 2024 presidential election run-up.
“Taiwan’s not the problem,” said Graham. “Lindsey Graham’s not the problem. It’s Putin, and it’s Xi,” he said, referring to the leaders of China and Russia and their expansion aims.
He said an increased U.S. presence in the region could alleviate the newly-emboldened duo of threats.
Graham’s remarks came amidst Chinese military drills near the Taiwanese island. The island is a democracy that Beijing has long claimed as a province.
The comments come after the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, traveled across the U.S. for a 10-day international tour. She met with Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York before jetting to meet GOP Speaker of the House CA’s Kevin McCarthy and critical other congressional members outside of Los Angeles.
The trip triggered an extreme backlash against officials from China, who sanctioned the organizations that hosted her during the trip, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Hudson Institute. It labeled the visit as a “provocation.”
China ramps up provocations; Graham warns of war
After three days of military exercises, the People’s Liberation Army issued a “stern warning.” The Defense Ministry of Taiwan said it counted 71 Chinese warplanes crossing the Taiwan Strait on Saturday alone.
“I would up our game,” said Graham Sunday. “If you don’t up your game now, you are going to have a war.”
The senator from South Carolina championed a series of deterrent measures he said could hold off an eventual Beijing takeover of Taiwan. Taiwan produces over 90% of the global semiconductors.
“I would increase training and get the F-16s they need to Taiwan,” said Graham. “There’s a backlog. I would solve that backlog. I would move war forces to South Korea and Japan. I would put nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on all of our submarines all over the world.”
In the event of an invasion, Graham said he believed in the long-standing “One China Policy,” which would support the deployment of troops to defend Taiwan.
The U.S. has been committed to defending Taiwan since the 1970s while not officially recognizing the island as a separate entity from China. The division is a thin line, blurred in recent years. A Taiwan trip by former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi last August sparked national interest and a frantic response from China. A month later, President Joe Biden said in an interview that American forces would defend the island “if, in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”
GOP House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul of Texas and a bipartisan delegation from the House landed in Taipai on Thursday before the CCP began its military drills. They met with President Tsai there, and McCaul emphasized the importance of promoting peace and projecting strength. McCaul maintained the group discussed weapons drills.
“These are intimidation tactics and saber-rattling, in my judgment, only firm up our resolve against the Chinese Communist Party,” said McCaul Saturday. “It has no deterrent effect on us. In fact, I think it galvanizes the United States’ support for Taiwan.”