WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, today joined America Reports on Fox News to discuss China’s military response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan and President Joe Biden’s weakness emboldening Communist China.
Hagerty on the Biden Administration’s incompetence emboldening China: “Well, to be frank, I’d be concerned about President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, or [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi going just because their tendency to misspeak is great. But at the same time, we don’t need to ask for a hall pass from the Chinese Communist Party if we want to make a visit to Taiwan. [During] the Trump Administration, we sent senior officials there; we never asked for permission. I think with the unfortunate unveiling of this debate in the media here between the White House and Nancy Pelosi created an open door for President Xi to come in and beat his chest and really create a bunch of domestic noise that will be very helpful to him domestically to create a sense that somehow the United States is an invader. That’s not the case, but this is helpful for them from a domestic standpoint, and that opening was created by the fact that we had a back and forth in the media between the White House and Nancy Pelosi. If she wanted to go, she should have just done it. The White House should be supportive of it and she should have moved on.”
Hagerty on China’s threats: “Well, as you know, I was Ambassador to Japan. We used the term, ‘Kabuki Theater.’ I think that’s what’s going on here. You’re going to see a lot of theater, but I don’t expect this to turn into anything that’s kinetic. I think what you’re seeing and what we will witness is really an audience in mainland China that President Xi is playing to. And in the same time, again, trying to exert his authority in a more broad basis, but these are threats. This is not action in my view.”
Hagerty on the importance of maintaining a strong U.S. posture against China: “I completely agree. We should be carrying a bigger stick, and look at the malign behavior of China. We saw what happened when China had tariffs imposed upon it. They really stepped back. I was Ambassador at the time that we moved into the region with a very forceful posture. From a military standpoint, we need to be present. We need to make certain that China knows that we understand their predatory practices from an economic standpoint, from a diplomatic standpoint, from a military standpoint, we’re not going to allow it. Again, China’s trying to close the military competence gap with us right now. We need to continue to make certain that the U.S. possesses the strongest military, and that we have a real force there in the region.”
Hagerty on President Xi’s broader goals: “I think a large part of the audience for this, and a large part of theatrics that we’re seeing from China, is Xi’s audience, and that’s the National Congress; he’s playing to that as well. But if you look longer term, Xi’s articulated his goal, and that’s to bring Taiwan into the fold with China, and he’s talking about getting that done. It would be, again, after his next term begins, but we’ve got to be ever cognizant of that threat, and we need to be continuing to support Taiwan. We need to continue to be very present in the region.”