Republican US presidential hopeful Marco Rubio said that, if elected, he would defend Taiwan should the nation be invaded by China.
“If they were to invade Taiwan, or if they were to go aggressively after Japan, we have agreements, defense agreements, with these countries,” he told Fox TV News.
“And we would come to their assistance as required,” Rubio said.
A US senator from Florida, Rubio is considered to be one of the front-running mainstream candidates for the Republican nomination.
Interviewer Neil Cavuto said that China was now landing passenger planes on islands it had artificially built in the South China Sea and asked Rubio what he would do to stop it.
“Those are not neutral waters,” Rubio said.
“Those are actually the territorial waters of other countries. And they are being impeded upon by China. And that needs to be challenged,” he added. “What they’re hoping is that we’ll just accept it... If they can just start using these islands, everyone will say, well, what can we do about it?”
Rubio said this was why it was so important to rebuild the US Navy.
Pressed as to what he would actually do about the South China Sea if he was in the White House, Rubio said: “I would sail right through those waters. I would put the US Navy in place, and repeatedly sail right through those waters and repeatedly challenge both the air rights that they’re claiming and the sea lanes that they’re claiming.”
He said that as part of rebuilding the US military alliance in the region, he would develop capacity to work with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
“I think we need to reinvigorate our Pacific military alliance and that begins with the United States investing the resources necessary to rebuild our navy,” Rubio said.
Cavuto asked if China landed a military jet on one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, would a President Rubio see that as an act of war?
It was at this point that the senator said that he would come to the assistance of Taiwan if it was invaded by China.
He said the US should not accept China building artificial islands.
“We should reject their sovereignty claims over these areas, and we should continue to fly our airplanes over and sail our ships through them,” he said.
“What we should not allow is for China to get away with what they’re trying to do,” he added.
Rubio said that Russia under President Vladimir Putin had taken over Crimea and that everyone now accepted that Crimea was owned by Moscow and that there was no way to change it.
“We will never accept that in the Asia Pacific region when I’m president,” he said.
“We have to have a navy with the capability — not just technological capability, but enough ships and airplanes to continue to challenge China’s claims and to live up to our defense agreements in the region,” Rubio said.
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