Hagerty Presses Biden Administration Officials on Taiwan, Indo-Pacific Strategy

December 9, 2021

Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was held after Hagerty, colleagues requested it

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, yesterday pressed State and Defense Department officials on the Biden Administration’s strategy toward Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

The hearing was held after Hagerty, along with Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Todd Young (R-IN), sent a letter to Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) concerning Taiwan and Communist China in October 2021. The letter requested Committee hearings and briefings on U.S. policy toward Taiwan amid Communist China’s growing threats to Taiwan and after President Joe Biden had cryptically told reporters that he and Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, had agreed to abide by a “Taiwan agreement” when no direct bilateral U.S.-China agreement over Taiwan is known to exist.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner described America’s partnership with Taiwan “as an anchor to our network of allies and partners in the region” in response to Hagerty’s question on “how Taiwan impacts our defense posture” and “our ability to work with, to protect, and to defend Japan, Korea, and Australia.” Ratner, moreover, confirmed to the Committee the United States views Taiwan as “essential” to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific Region.

Hagerty also raised concerns about Communist China’s escalation of the nuclear arms race. China “is currently building underground silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the Senator said. “It’s improving its nuclear triad of land-based, of sea-based, of air-based weapons, and it’s testing nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons. General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described China’s recent hypersonic missile test as a ‘Sputnik moment.’ General John Hyten, who until recently served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, described these nuclear capable hypersonics as likely a first-use weapon or a first-strike weapon. Our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific are increasingly alarmed about China’s laser focus and emphasis on their strategic capabilities,” Hagerty added. “And the United States needs to maintain a credible, extended deterrence commitment to our allies in the Indo-Pacific.”

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink agreed with Senator Hagerty on the necessity for the United States to maintain credible deterrence. “I believe that it is a vital American national interest to demonstrate the credibility and the sanctity of our security treaty commitments to our allies in the region using all of our capabilities,” Kritenbrink said.

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