Lawmakers call for end to 'strategic ambiguity' on Taiwan

Two congressional lawmakers on Thursday told Politico that they support moving away from "strategic ambiguity" toward Taiwan, sending a message to China that the U.S. will respond to aggression towards the democratically-governed island.

“I think that removing the ambiguity would be good,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Politico during its first Defense Forum.

"It would probably have a calming effect on China’s aspirations,” Tillis added. “I think it’s also important for the American people to understand how devastating China’s invasion of Taiwan would be."

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, similarly signaled his support for moving away from the U.S. government's long-standing policy of deliberate ambiguity toward Taiwan.

“I use the term ‘strategic deterrence,’ but deterrence only if there’s clarity in that deterrence,” said Bera. “And often, we just talk about the military and deterrence. There’s economic, as well. What kind of multilateral sanctions would be placed on China should they invade Taiwan? What else would happen in the region?”

These calls for stronger American support of Taiwan come the same day The Wall Street Journal published a report stating that U.S. forces have been secretly training Taiwan's military forces for the past year.

According to the Journal's report, around two dozen members of U.S. special operations and support troops have been training smaller units of Taiwan's ground forces.

China has recently ramped up its military activity near Taiwan, flying nearly 150 warplanes near the island in the past week in an attempt to intimidate a country that it has long viewed as part of its territory. Taiwanese officials said this week that they were preparing for a potential war with China.

On Tuesday, President Biden said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to abide by the "Taiwan agreement."

The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act is a piece of legislation that established nondiplomatic, unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, allowing for the island to be treated as a foreign country without being officially recognized.

The bill established diplomatic relations with China on the condition that Taiwan's future was determined peacefully.

The Taiwan Relations Act also states that the U.S. "will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," with the nature and quantity of this defense to be determined by the president and Congress.

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