(breitbart) – Both Vice President Kamala Harris and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) were in the Indo-Pacific region this part week, but one was on a lengthy vacation while the other took on China.
Harris has been in Hawaii since August 15 for vacation, to reportedly return to D.C. on Friday. Meanwhile Sen. Blackburn visited Taiwan and several small nations in the Indo-Pacific region to show support as they face down an increasingly aggressive China.
China has stepped up its intimidation of Taiwan in the aftermath of a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other American lawmakers to Taiwan. China considers Taiwan part of its territory instead of a separate democratic nation and has threatened to invade the island to “reunify” it under Beijing’s authoritarian rule.
The Biden administration had opposed Pelosi’s trip out of concern it would upset China.
Blackburn spoke to a small group of reporters after meeting with the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and other top-ranking Taiwanese officials in a telephone press conference from the region. She said:
We have had a really insightful week here visiting with the Pacific Island community — Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. she said. “It’s been time well spent. [It’s] very clear that the threat from the [Chinese Communist Party] is real…the individuals in this region feel that they are in the front lines.
Blackburn said although the leadership of the Solomon Islands have decided they are going to engage with the CCP, it is not something that is embraced by its people. “They have concerns,” she said, adding they wanted to do more with the United States.
She said she learned from her visit to the Solomon Islands “You have to be present in order to be able to participate and counter what is taking place with the CCP.”
“We are currently in the process of establishing an embassy building…there is a team there, they are working,” she said.
Blackburn said Taiwan is an important trading partner for the U.S. as a source for semi-conductors and microprocessors and other critical supply chain items. She said Taiwanese officials say they would like to see expanding trade with the U.S., including increasing exports to the U.S. of agricultural products and expanding those markets in the U.S.
She also said the Taiwanese share the values of love of democracy, liberty, freedom, and their desire to protect those values and preserve their culture, which would be threatened by a Chinese takeover.
She said the Taiwanese are increasing their defense spending, particularly on capabilities where they could have an asymmetric advantage vis-à-vis China. They are also increasing their army reserve component, as well as cyber capabilities.
She warned a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would have a “worldwide impact.”
She said there is a concern across the region that if China does invade Taiwan, it would then go after smaller nations. “That causes some heartburn in this region as well,” she said.
Blackburn said Taiwanese officials are looking for more arms sales from the United States and the Biden administration has been slow to approve them.
“They are definitely looking for more, and they’re beginning to talk in terms of what they need to stockpile, what would be required for an asymmetric preservation…a military reserve component they would call on,” she aid.
“They feel like it’s moving much too slowly; they feel like the pace needs to pick up… . Approvals — that is something where the pace needs to pick up,” she said.
Ukraine had also requested more weapons from the U.S. before the Russia invasion, but the Biden administration was slow and hesitant to approve them out of concern it would aggravate Russia — which ended up invaded the country anyway. Republican lawmakers argued that if Ukraine was sufficiently armed beforehand, it could have staved off the invasion.
Blackburn declined to characterize the threat from China to Taiwan, but said the island nation is “focused on preparedness.”
She said a Chinese invasion is not something that is inevitable.”They feel like there is a path for preserving their independence. They fully realize that China is intent on global domination… . They are aware they are preparing,” she said.
She said the U.S. remains Taiwan’s “partner of choice.”
“Whether that is pushing back against the CCP or pushing forward for their people with economic growth…the United States is a partner of choice,” she said.
As to whether the U.S. should change its “One China Policy” to acknowledge that Taiwan is a separate country, Blackburn said, “I feel like Taiwan is a country. If Taiwan was not a country, then why would China be talking about reunification?”