U.S. senator questions if Australia, NZ, would help defend Taiwan

A senior United States senator on Monday questioned the willingness of some American allied countries to help defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese invasion, while expressing concern over Taipei's ability to endure such an invasion long enough before friendly forces arrive.

John Cornyn, a Republican senator from Texas, said while Chinese President Xi Jinping (???) expected the U.S. and Japan to respond in case of a cross-Taiwan Strait war, he was "a little less confident what our other allies would do."

Australia and New Zealand have voiced support for Taiwan, but it "is a far cry from committing troops to repel an invasion," Cornyn said during a discussion on China, Russia, and the state of American military readiness, which was held by Washington D.C.-based think tank American Enterprise Institute.

He also questioned both countries' willingness to help Taiwan during a potential invasion.

As was the case with Russian President Vladimir Putin, "one guy decides whether to invade or not," when it comes to Taiwan's future, Cornyn said.

Meanwhile, Cornyn also cast doubt over Taiwan's readiness to fend off a Chinese invasion.

"I don't think the Taiwanese are ready" for an attack, Cornyn warned, adding that "we've see all the signs" of increased Chinese belligerency following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan in August 2022.

Cornyn also questioned whether Taiwan could "hold out for a couple of weeks ... until the cavalry arrives" for its rescue.

The situation is very different from that of Ukraine, which has land connections with NATO countries to move support into the country, whereas Taiwan is an island and support would have to come by air or sea, he noted.

When asked what would deter Xi from an attack in the near future, Cornyn pointed to "costs" leading to potential failure.

Tensions over Taipei between Washington and Beijing were heightened after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, the first by a sitting U.S. House speaker to the country in 25 years.

Beijing showed its displeasure after Pelosi's 19-hour visit by conducting several days of large-scale military drills in waters around Taiwan that went beyond previous military maneuvers such as flying fighter jets in Taiwan's air defense identification zone, aimed at sending a message to Taiwan and the U.S.

Cornyn is considered by Taiwan's government to be a pro-Taiwan senator who last visited the country in November 2021.

He has initiated several pro-Taiwan bills in the U.S. Senate, including the Taiwan Partnership Act that was submitted last July, calling for collaboration between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan's military, and the Taiwan Deterrence Act put forth earlier this month to increase military aid to Taiwan and bolster its defense amid China's growing coercion.

Over the past few decades, the U.S. has intentionally maintained a stance characterized as "strategic ambiguity" regarding whether it would come to Taiwan's defense in the event of an attack by China.

Under this stance, Washington is deliberately vague about whether the U.S. would do more than just provide Taiwan with weapons based on the Taiwan Relations Act and actually send troops to help Taiwan fight China.

Since taking office in January 2021, however, President Joe Biden has repeatedly used language that appeared to diverge from this longstanding policy.

On each of those occasions, administration officials later walked back the comments and signaled that America's Taiwan policy had not changed.

Meanwhile, Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) President Tsai Ing-wen (???) announced last December that compulsory military service in Taiwan would be extended from four months to one year, effective Jan. 1, 2024 for males born on or after Jan. 1, 2005.

The decision is meant to strengthen Taiwan's combat readiness against potential Chinese attacks, and has been welcomed by Washington, which has said that such conscription reform "underscores Taiwan's commitment to self-defense and strengthens deterrence," according to a White House spokesperson.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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