The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee suggested on Friday that China would launch an invasion of Taiwan after next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“I think after the Olympics, China has become so defiant, so aggressive in the South China Sea, that you’re going to see the CCP, the [Chinese] Communist Party invading Taiwan,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told reporters on a conference call.
McCaul further argued that President Biden’s sloppy messaging on the ongoing Ukraine crisis has sent a signal of weakness to U.S. adversaries, which McCaul believes they will seek to exploit.
“I would say [Jimmy] Carter is the worst president of my life,” McCaul said. “But this guy is really taking the cake, and I’ve never seen, in a year, our position on the world stage diminish so rapidly and quickly at the expense of our national security.”
McCaul’s move on China’s part would not be unprecedented. In 2014, Russia began moving regular troops and special forces to Crimea on the final weekend of that year’s Winter Games, which it hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. . He completed the annexation of the Ukrainian region weeks later.
Biden was heavily criticized for suggesting during his White House press conference on Wednesday that the Western response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be less severe if it were a “minor incursion.” The statement alarmed Ukrainians who fear the US president may inadvertently reveal that he would turn a blind eye to military action.
The White House has repeatedly attempted to backtrack on Biden’s remarks, culminating in the president saying on Thursday that “if any assembled Russian units cross the Ukrainian border, that’s an invasion.” He will be met [a] severe and coordinated economic response.
But critics like McCaul say the damage has already been done.
“My prediction is that you are going to see a Russia invade Ukraine next month,” he said, adding that “[Chinese President] Xi looks at what’s happening in Ukraine, they’ve also looked at what happened with Afghanistan, and don’t think for a minute that it didn’t impact their calculation.
“Putin always wanted Ukraine back, he wants the Soviet Empire back on the throne,” McCaul added. “Xi wants Imperial China and Taiwan is part of it. So they see this, because of weakness, as an opportunity to do so.
McCaul called on the US military to step up its presence in the region “to show China that we mean business.”
“We need to arm Taiwan with more weapons, and I signed a lot of those deals, and I also think we need to build better economic and trade relations in the region to counter the Belt and Road Initiative that the China, unfortunately, has done so well,” he said.
Earlier this week, the USS Benfold guided-missile destroyer passed through two disputed island chains in the South China Sea during a so-called freedom of navigation patrol, sparking a protest from Beijing.
“We solemnly demand that the US side immediately cease such provocative actions, otherwise it will suffer the serious consequences of unforeseen events,” read a statement from China’s Southern Theater Command on Thursday.
In response, the Navy asserted that the Benfold’s mission had been conducted “in accordance with international law” and “reflected our commitment to upholding freedom of navigation and the lawful uses of the sea as a principle”.
“The United States upholds the right of every nation to fly, navigate and operate wherever international law permits, as the USS Benfold did this week,” a statement read. “Nothing RPC [People’s Republic of China] says otherwise will dissuade us.