Barrasso to Biden: Get a 'Backbone' on China

Barrasso to Biden: Get a 'Backbone' on China
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) in Washington on Dec. 1, 2020. (Bill O'Leary-Pool/Getty Images)
Andrew Thornebrooke

President Joe Biden needs to do more to stand up to Chinese communist aggression, according to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who said that the regime was taking advantage of perceived weakness with its ongoing military escalations around Taiwan.

"China is displaying strength at a time when President Biden has displayed weakness and they're going to take full advantage of it," Barrasso said during an interview with Fox.

"When China or Putin or anyone sees weakness, they go at it. And that's what's happened right here. The president needs to show some backbone internationally."

The comments come amid a deep fallout between the United States and China following a visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the week.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains a so-called One China principle, which states that Taiwan is a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland. The regime says that Pelosi's trip violated that principle, and has since launched its largest ever military exercises encircling the island.

For its part, Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949 and has never been controlled by the CCP. Moreover, Taiwan’s democratic government and thriving market economy ensure that it maintains healthy trade relations with many global powers, and Congressional delegations from the United States make frequent visits.

The United States does not maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but since 1979 has guaranteed that it will provide the island government with the arms necessary to ensure its defense.

Barrasso said that the United States could do much more on that front, and that the only way to seriously counter the CCP's military aggression in the Indo-Pacific was to ensure Taiwan was appropriately armed before a Chinese attack happened—and not after.

"The United States must make a commitment to make sure Taiwan has the weapons they need to defend themselves," Barrasso said. "I'm into all the classified briefings and know exactly what's happening right there now. We need to make sure that we want to prevent, not provoke, war. And the way to do that is you make Taiwan into a porcupine. Make it painful if China goes after them."

Barrasso also lambasted recent White House efforts to tank bipartisan Senate legislation that would significantly improve Taiwan's defense and ensure that it had assistance from the United States.

The legislation, led by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would send $4 billion in assistance to Taiwan over four years and amend the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to designate Taiwan as a "Major non-NATO Ally" of the United States.

Despite wide bipartisan support for the move, the White House strongly pushed back against the effort, and lobbied Democrat senators to kill the legislation, apparently out of fear of upsetting CCP leadership.

"The Democrats were forced to stop it because Biden didn't want to move forward when we had bipartisan support going in," Barrasso said.

To that end, Barrasso's comments highlighted an unusual dynamic in American governance, with Congress reaching bipartisan agreement that the United States needs to take a tougher stance against CCP aggression and the White House working against those efforts.

Barrasso said that the tension between Congress and the White House over China was odd, and that the administration should reconsider its refusal to support Pelosi's trip or to push back against China given strong bipartisan support for both.

"I supported Speaker Pelosi's trip," Barrasso said, "25 Republican Senators came out with a statement supporting Speaker Pelosi. I mean, think about that."

"You have 25 Republican Senators standing with Speaker Pelosi and the president doesn't say a thing. That is really upside down."

The White House did not return a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Andrew Thornebrooke is a national security correspondent for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.