The U.S. “would be a less safe place” if China were to invade the self-governing democratic island of Taiwan, according to Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts.

Roberts, who led a Heritage Foundation delegation to Taiwan and Japan in February, made the remarks during a Thursday event at Heritage titled, “The American Case for Taiwan.”

Jeff Smith, director of the foundation’s Asian Studies Center, moderated the event. (The Daily Signal is the news arm of The Heritage Foundation.)

“Since returning from Taiwan, I have heard you use the word ‘indispensable’ to describe Taiwan and its centrality to U.S. security and economic interests,” Smith said. “I don’t recall you using that word prior to the trip. Something must have changed your mind.”

“Yes, the value of seeing firsthand what the world would be like, what the United States would be like, if, God forbid, Taiwan were invaded,” Roberts responded.

“And again, just with my parochial hat on as an American, which, of course, is totally appropriate. People from certain countries need to place as the top priority the needs of their nation state,” Roberts said. “If Taiwan were invaded, America would be a poorer place.”

During their trip to Taiwan, Roberts and the Heritage delegation met with both outgoing Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and incoming Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te.

“America would be a less safe place. But also, there would be a chain reaction,” Roberts continued. “During the first Cold War, we’re in the second one with China, we operated with a thesis of a domino effect, which was real. The Soviet Union initiated that.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for the “reunification” of mainland China with the sovereign nation of Taiwan, though the island was never ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. 

“Make no mistake: The Chinese saber-rattling toward Taiwan is born out of the same saber-rattling they do to us in the United States,” Roberts added. “And if I may be really blunt, Jeff, Taiwan is indispensable if something like that scenario were to happen.”

“But it’s also indispensable if hopefully that doesn’t happen, it causes us in the United States to realize the No. 1 enemy in the world, in the history of this great country, the United States, is the Chinese Communist Party,” Roberts said, adding:

As awful as the Soviet Union was, as awful as Nazi Germany was, as much as we dislike the United Kingdom in the 1770s and 1780s, the Chinese Communist Party is the gravest threat to this country and to free people ever in the history of this country. Taiwan helps us remember that what’s at stake if something happens to them.

Thursday’s event came just one day after the release of Michael Cunningham’s special report, also titled “The American Case for Taiwan.” Cunningham, who also spoke at the event, is a research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center.

The report highlights how U.S. national security could be impacted should China take over Taiwan. 

Specifically, Cunningham explores how the U.S. might not be able to remain neutral in the event of a war over Taiwan, noting that tens of thousands of U.S. citizens living on the island would be directly impacted. He also discusses the U.S.’ involvement in respect to its treaty allies, the Philippines and Japan.

Cunningham’s report also addresses the potentially devastating impact a Chinese takeover of Taiwan could have on both the global and U.S. economy, and presents five recommendations for Washington with the goal of keeping Taiwan secure and free from the Chinese Communist Party’s control.