China must ‘pay price’ for Russia backing, says US senator in Taiwan

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China must pay a greater price for backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior United States senator said Friday, during a trip to Taiwan in which American lawmakers vowed that Washington would not abandon the island.

Beijing threatened “strong measures” in response to the delegation led by Lindsey Graham, a vocal China hawk, and announced Friday the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) staged drills around Taiwan and in the East China Sea.

China has never controlled democratic Taiwan but it views the island as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

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Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, which Beijing has refused to condemn, has heightened fears that China might one day follow through on threats to annex its smaller neighbor.

During a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, Graham said the United States would “stand for what we love, we would stand with you.”

“To abandon Taiwan would be to abandon democracy and freedom... it would reward the worst in humanity.”

“We are going to start making China pay a greater price for what they are doing all over the world. The support for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin must come with a price,” he added.

Taiwan’s security bears global consequences as the island produces some 90 percent of high-end semiconductors, added Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Those who wish Taiwan ill must understand that the global community will look at that and say we cannot allow Taiwan to be negatively impacted because the world’s interests are involved,” he said at a separate press conference.

When asked if Washington should send troops to help defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, Graham said “every option is on the table.”

“We have a strong military not to take other people’s properties but to protect our freedom and the freedom of the world,” he told reporters.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the PLA’s move was a “countermeasure” against the latest visit while accusing some people in the United States of trying to “contain China with the Taiwan issue.”

“The operation was organized in response to the frequent wrong signals sent recently by the United States on the Taiwan issue,” said Shi Yi, a spokesman for the PLA Eastern Theatre Command.

“The bad behavior and tricks of the United States are completely futile and extremely perilous. Those who play with fire will get burned,” he said.

Like most nations, the United States diplomatically recognizes Beijing but also maintains de facto ties with Taipei and is bound by an Act of Congress to ensure Taiwan can maintain its defense.

US arms sales and diplomatic visits to Taiwan have ticked up under both former president Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden.

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