AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texan who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress is sending a strong warning about potential military conflict with China. Congressman Michael McCaul called the risk “very high.” It comes amid rising tension over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced an agreement to increase the U.S. military presence in the Pacific. The agreement includes $82 million to enhance military infrastructure in the Philippines, including increased access to bases in the country. Austin called it a response to military moves by China in the region.
Congressman McCaul voiced similar concerns in an interview Wednesday with Texas Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden. What follows is a partial transcript of that interview:
Monica Madden: You have warned about the potential of a war between China invading Taiwan in the coming years. Talk about why you think that is more imminent now than before.
Rep. Michael McCaul: “Well, it’s based upon my briefings, both classified and non-classified, I think, ever since Afghanistan fell, and the debacle that took place there. You know, it’s interesting when Afghanistan fell, last August, we saw the Russian Federation, moving toward Ukraine. We knew the invasion was gonna take place. I think it’s because we’re projecting weakness, after that, which invites aggression. Then you saw Chairman Xi, form this unholy alliance with Mr. Putin, and also Iran and North Korea are involved in the Ukrainian conflict.
When you look at Taiwan, we know that Chairman Xi has talked about, just like Putin talked about reunification of Ukraine, he talks about reunification of Taiwan back to mainland China. Taiwan, by the way, manufactures 90% of the advanced global manufacturing capabilities for semiconductors which if China either owns or breaks it, will cause major disruption in supply chain.
So I think, quite honestly, that a military invasion would be their last option. I think their first option would be to influence the elections that will take place next January in 2024. President Tsai’s party, the current president, her party lost a lot of their governor’s races. The Chinese Communist Party is began a campaign saying that her party is tied to the United States as a proxy to go with toward China. And it’s having some traction.
So I do think in answer to your question that they are going to try to overthrow the Taiwanese election and they can take it over without a shot fired. However, if they are not successful in that effort, I do believe that they will then go into Plan B, which would be either a blockade or an outright military invasion of the island.”
Monica Madden: “In the absolute worst-case scenario, if there is a war involving China, do you think the United States is prepared in terms of our defense space and our supplies?”
Rep. Michael McCaul: “Well, that’s a major discussion here. And it’s a great concern. I sign off on all foreign military weapons sales, but I signed off on weapons three years ago, they have yet to go into Taiwan. So I am worried about that. I’m worried about the lack of joint military exercises, with Taiwan, we have to have deterrence. Otherwise, China, if they see an opening, that they’re going to take it.
Taiwan will be a very different calculus compared to Ukraine, in the sense that Ukraine is capable of fighting their own war, if we give them the right weapons systems. Taiwan is not. Taiwan is not capable of fighting this alone. It would necessarily involve the United States, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom. And I think it’s gonna be up to the American people. In the event that happens as to what to do.
I can say that my committee that I chair, the Foreign Affairs Committee, we have the authority of declaration of war under the Constitution and also authorized use of military force that you’ve seen exercised in previous conflicts we’ve had. I hope, we don’t have to have that discussion. But we have to be prepared.”
Monica Madden: “I want to ask you a quick question about the debate over the debt ceiling: what are your thoughts about using it as a negotiating tool to pass you know, certain Republican priorities, whether it be border policy or something else?”
Rep. Michael McCaul: “I think with the debt ceiling, we just want to see a cap on 2022 spending, discretionary. We’re approaching, Monica, a $32 trillion debt. That is enormous right now. And it’s really immoral to pass it down to our children and grandchildren without trying to fix it. We’re talking about reasonable, meaningful spending cuts commensurate with the 2022 spending caps that we want to put in place.
Having said that, I’m not in favor of any cuts to our defense, our military defense, because as I’ve outlined in this interview, that we’re living in a very dangerous time, you know, a time that I haven’t seen really since World War Two, my father’s war, when you had Hitler invading Europe, and Japan invading the Pacific, you’re seeing this playing out with Putin, and Chairman Xi of China.
So I think it’d be very dangerous to cut our defense spending. But I do think we have to deal with the reality that we have way too much debt, that we’re moving forward to the next generation.”