Urgent measures are needed to strengthen the credibility of US military deterrence of any potential Chinese aggression against Taiwan, a report released on Wednesday by a bipartisan advisory body to the US Congress said.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission included a range of recommendations about Taiwan in its annual report to Congress, amid heightened tensions between Taiwan and China.
Congress should take either legislative or administrative action to “resist any resort to force that would jeopardize the security of Taiwan” in accordance with the US’ Taiwan Relations Act, it said.
Congress should authorize and appropriate funds for Taiwan to purchase defense articles from the US and finance the deployment of cruise and ballistic missiles and other munitions in the Indo-Pacific region, while increasing funding for surveillance, it said.
“A lack of clarity in US policy could contribute to a deterrence failure if Chinese leaders interpret that policy to mean opportunistic aggression against Taiwan might not provoke a quick or decisive US response,” the report added.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders remain deeply concerned about the uncertain success of an attempted invasion against Taiwan because failed attempts by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “to invade Taiwan or to counter US intervention risk undermining the CCP’s legitimacy,” it said.
However, the report said that Beijing’s “increasingly coercive approach to Taiwan puts almost daily pressure on the cross-strait status quo and increases the potential for a military crisis.”
The PLA “has already achieved the capabilities needed to conduct an air and naval blockade, cyberattacks and missile strikes against Taiwan,” the report said, estimating that it could at present carry an initial landing of 25,000 or more troops on Taiwan.
Under these circumstances, it has become less certain that US conventional military forces alone would continue to deter China’s leaders from initiating an attack on Taiwan, it said.
The report also addressed a range of economic issues between the US and China, including recommending that Congress consider legislation to address risks to US investors and interests in China investment.
China’s capital controls “may limit investors’ abilities to move money out of equity and bond investments, and the lack of oversight by trusted authorities may jeopardize investors’ funds,” commission chairwoman Robin Cleveland said in an opening statement. “More importantly, numerous companies which will benefit from US investment have been formally identified as threats to US national security interests.”
The report recommends prohibiting or at least better identifying the risks of variable interest entities, where Chinese companies create offshore corporate entities to circumvent China’s prohibitions on foreign direct investment in certain industries and list on US exchanges.
The report said that US participation in China’s financial markets was increasing — reaching as much as US$1.2 trillion last year — and “outpacing the US government’s defense” against threats posed by problematic Chinese companies.
The US administration has prohibited investment in 24 publicly traded Chinese companies, but commissioners Jeffrey Feidler and Michael Wessel said that “many more should be on the list.”
Additional reporting by CNA
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