JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Sen. Jack Reed believes the United States must “deter aggression” by China, following concerns the country may attack the island of Taiwan.
“That means providing the Taiwanese with the weapons they need, the training they need, and the confidence they need so that China would think any type of assault would be futile,” Reed told 12 News at an unrelated event in Johnston on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, sparking concerns Russia’s war in Ukraine could inspire China to attack Taiwan. China conducted military exercises in the strait of Taiwan throughout the summer.
In a recent interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, President Joe Biden said the United States would step in if there were an unprecedented Chinese attack on Taiwan.
“What should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan?” Pelley asked the president.
“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago,” the president responded. “That there’s one China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not … that’s their decision.”
“But would U.S. forces defend the island?” Pelley asked.
“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” Biden said.
For more than 40 years, United States policy has been to recognize Taiwan as part of China and remain silent on whether the military would defend the democratic government there.
Following the 60 Minutes interview, the White House said the policy has not changed. Reed, who also serves as the chair of the Armed Services Committee, affirmed the policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Monday.
Reed explained that there is a “rough parallel” between the relationship the United States has with Ukraine and the one it has with China and Taiwan.
“We were training Ukrainian soldiers since 2014. When the battle started, we moved equipment in there,” Reed said.
However, Reed said it’s clear the country needs to strengthen Taiwan by providing weapons and training, as made obligated in the Taiwan Relations Act.
“If it comes to an attack by the Chinese, then we have a very difficult decision to make,” Reed added.
Earlier this month, the State Department announced a $1.1 billion sale of military equipment to Taiwan.
A Chinese Embassy spokesperson said the deal “severely jeopardizes” China-United States “relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”