‘Beyond Unnerving:’ Graham Reacts to Report That Xi Told Biden China Will Take Taiwan

'Beyond Unnerving:' Graham Reacts to Report That Xi Told Biden China Will Take Taiwan

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Sen. Lindsey Graham warns of drafting sanctions against the Chinese regime if it invades Taiwan.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would prepare “pre-invasion sanctions from hell” if China’s communist regime takes action to annex Taiwan.

Mr. Graham made the comment in response to an NBC report, which claimed that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping told U.S. President Joe Biden that Beijing will “reunify” Taiwan with mainland China through peaceful means and that the timeline has yet to be decided.

The report, citing three unnamed U.S. officials, said the “blunt” message was issued during the two leaders’ face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco last month.

Calling the report “beyond unnerving,” Mr. Graham vowed to work with his Democratic and Republican colleagues to “create a robust defense supplemental for Taiwan” and “draft pre-invasion sanctions from hell to impose on China if they take action to seize Taiwan.”

“To communist China, if you think you can bully your way into destroying world order without consequences, you will be making Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine look wise,” he said in a statement.

Xi has repeatedly declared that the CCP will bring the democratic island under its control. During a major Party Congress last October, Xi said China strives for “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but would “never promise to renounce the use of force.”

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The Chinese regime has staged at least two large-scale strike drills around Taiwan in recent years and ramped up military activities near the island ahead of the Taiwanese presidential and parliamentary election on Jan. 13.

Mr. Graham said he believes the U.S. Congress is “fed up with communist China’s provocations.”

“This statement by Chinese Communist Party dictator boss Xi proves the old saying, weakness anywhere provokes aggression everywhere.”

White House Response

The White House reiterated the U.S. position on Taiwan when asked about the reported conversation between President Biden and Xi.

“I’m not going to get into the specifics of the discussion between the two leaders. I think you can understand I’m not going to read out that private conversation,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr. Kirby said Xi “has been public and clear about his desires for reunification” with Taiwan. “That’s not something different or new.”

The United States adheres to the “One China” policy, under which Washington officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei. However, the Taiwan Relations Act makes clear that the U.S. decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing instead of Taipei rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.

Mr. Kirby said President Biden has told Xi that the United States maintains its longstanding “One China” policy.

“We don’t support independence for Taiwan. We also don’t support a change in the status quo unilaterally and certainly not one by force,” he said. “And as the President has said, there’s no reason for this to come to blows.”

Taiwan’s Upcoming Presidential Election

The reported warning from Beijing came less than a month ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election, which will not only define the island’s future but also have ramifications for U.S.–China relations.

Elections on the self-ruled island had previously escalated tensions, most notably in 1996 when China’s military exercises and missile tests ahead of the voting prompted the United States to send an aircraft carrier task force to the area.

This time, the CCP has again stepped up political and military pressure. On Dec. 21, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it detected eight Chinese aircraft and three vessels operating around the island.

Vice President Lai Ching-te and running mate Hsiao Bi-khim from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party are leading in the polls. The CCP has labeled them as the “independence double-act” and rebuffed Mr. Lai’s offers of talks.

At the first televised policy address on Wednesday, Mr. Lai rejected Beijing’s accusation, saying that in the eyes of China, the three Taiwan presidential candidates are all separatists.

“China’s desire to swallow up Taiwan is their country’s national policy, their pursuit of world hegemony,” Mr. Lai said, standing next to the other two candidates—Hou Yu-ih from Taiwan’s largest opposition party, the Kuomintang, and former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the much smaller Taiwan People’s Party.

“Don’t foolishly allow China to define Taiwan independence,” he said.

“In the eyes of China, the three of us standing here running for president are all for Taiwan independence.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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