Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says the Chinese Communist Party is “on the march” and the U.S. is “not, at this moment, prepared to stop them.”
“We didn’t stop them cheating on trade. We didn’t stop them stealing our industry. We didn’t stop them in Hong Kong, and now, if China invades Taiwan, they would prevail,” Hawley said at The Heritage Foundation on Thursday. “(The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
“Let me say that again: If China were to invade Taiwan today, they would prevail, which is why we are at an inflection point, a moment where we have to make some tough decisions and I would just submit to you a moment for real change,” said Hawley, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It is time to adopt a different foreign policy, a nationalist foreign policy.”
Hawley made the remarks an event hosted by Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts titled “China and Ukraine: A Time for Truth,” which addressed topics such as China’s potential invasion of Taiwan and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Hawley, who is also a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, discussed the “rules-based international order,” which he said was “disastrous” for the U.S. He warned that “politicians and other experts invoke it whenever they want to send a few billion dollars more to some other country.”
“We admitted China to the World Trade Organization. That I will submit to you will go down as one of the gravest strategic errors committed by any great power in the last two or three centuries. Simply put, it has been a disaster for this nation,” Hawley said. China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
“Now, that’s not what we were told at the time. At the time, the uni-party told us this would make everybody richer, that we could offshore all the jobs we didn’t really want and import a bunch of cheap junk without undermining our own prosperity,” he said.
They also argued that this would democratize China. Do you remember that argument? That this somehow would lead to an opening up of the Chinese regime and that if we brought China into the global economic order, Tiananmen Square and other horrors would be things of the past.
Well, having been in Hong Kong in the fall of 2019, I can tell you that was a catastrophic misjudgment and the uni-party’s claims were catastrophic mistakes. One country-two systems was not China’s first broken promise. After joining the [World Trade Organization], China promptly cheated.
China “took full advantage of its access to global markets to enrich who? Itself, but simultaneously shielded its own economy from foreign competition,” Hawley said. He added that Americans, especially blue-collar workers, “paid the price” as China’s “economy boomed.”
A protester briefly interrupted Hawley’s speech to yell about the “climate crisis” and said “China is not our enemy.”
Hawley also asked: “What did our leadership do while all of this was happening, while China was growing in power, while they were cheating on trade, while they were taking away our jobs?”
“Well, I’ll tell you what they did. exactly the wrong things,” he answered. “While China was prospering, and American towns were withering away, the uni-party set its sights on the Middle East.”
Hawley said the same situation is happening now with Ukraine.
“If we only send a few more weapons, a few more billion or maybe it’s a few more $100 billion, then we’ll really have a stable rules-based international order. Maybe we should do some more nation building. Maybe we can even force regime change in Russia,” Hawley said. “All ideas that the uni-party is excited about. All ideas that are nonsense. They’re the wrong ideas at the wrong time.”
“We should’ve seen the threat from China coming years ago, but the uni-party didn’t, and they still aren’t taking it seriously. Right now, we have leaders on both parties, former NATO brass telling us that defending Ukraine is basically the same thing as deterring China,” he said.
Let’s consider this idea that somehow by fighting Ukraine, we’re actually deterring China in Asia. The truth is that China’s path to global superpower runs through Asia. In order to establish itself as the global power it seeks to be, China must establish hegemony in Asia, which means we must stop them there.
As Napoleon once said to have remarked, ‘If you want to take Vienna, take Vienna.’ If you want to deter China in Asia, deter them in Asia.
Hawley said the U.S.’ “actions in Ukraine are directly affecting our ability to deter our most pressing adversary: that is China in the Pacific.”
“Let’s just consider where we are. Let’s talk about our position. For starters, the more U.S. resources that we devote to Europe, the fewer things we have available to strengthen deterrence in the Pacific,” he said. “Now, for some things like heavy armored units, that might not matter a whole lot, but it matters a lot for the capabilities that we need to deter China from invading Taiwan.”
He said both Taiwan and Ukraine need similar weaponry such as Stinger missiles and the Javelin, and that “the U.S. industrial bases, as has been widely reported, is already strapped for capacity.”
“The truth is we cannot defend Ukraine and stop China in Taiwan and see to our own military requirements at the same time. We simply cannot do it all, and frankly, we shouldn’t have to,” Hawley said. “Some of the world’s wealthiest nations are our allies in Europe. But right now, we are the ones, not the Europeans, who are doing the heavy lifting in Europe.”
“In fact, we have sent more weapons to Ukraine than all of Europe has combined, than all of Europe combined, and those choices are weakening us in one place—the key place—the Pacific where we require strength,” he said. “Let me be blunt, the uni-party’s way is not sustainable. It is a path to failure. And this is why China is now positioned to strike with overwhelming force and seize Taiwan.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to invade the island for years, Hawley said. Xi “wants control of the Pacific,” and views it as “the key to his global dominance.” Hawley also noted that Xi has said “plainly what it is he wants to do, and we haven’t taken him seriously enough.”
Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast.
“After so many failures, if we do not stop China in Asia, nothing else we do against China, anywhere else, will matter much,” he said.
The Missouri senator laid out what the U.S. can do if we wake up tomorrow and China is invading Taiwan, specifically “reducing our force levels in Europe.”
“We should keep cutting until we are supporting NATO’s defenses with only those capabilities that we don’t need to deter China and of course with our nuclear arsenal, and we should ask our European allies to make up the difference,” Hawley said. “This is what a real burden-sharing arrangement would look like. This is how we safeguard our interests in Europe, while critically deterring China in Asia. Finally, the United States should arm Taiwan.”
Hawley quickly clarified that he does not intend to send blank checks to a foreign power, as the Biden administration appears to be doing in Ukraine.
“Now listen, I want to be really clear on this. I’m not in favor of blank checks to anybody. So, I’m not here to tell you that I don’t favor blank checks to Ukraine, but I do favor them to Taiwan. No, quite the contrary,” he said.
My view is we have got to help the [Taiwanese] defend themselves. We should be arming and supporting the [Taiwanese] but on the condition that they spend in their own defense, that they embrace an asymmetric defense strategy, that they go all in on the defense of their island and prepare to defend it from any potential Chinese invasion.
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