Rep. Joe Wilson, RS.C., has sharply criticized President Joe Biden for what the senator said was shifting the blame to the military for not shooting down a Chinese observation balloon sooner. Photo courtesy of US Representative Joe Wilson.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) — The House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday raised new concerns about China’s threats to U.S. national defense and the prospect of a possible confrontation over Taiwan after an alleged Chinese spy balloon that crossed border of the continental United States last week.
In the morning’s hearing, Republicans took multiple opportunities to chastise the Biden administration for its response to the hot air balloon, which has brought renewed attention to US-China relations. Some also raised questions about the extensive assistance to Ukraine from the United States.
Rep. Joe Wilson, RS.C., has sharply criticized President Joe Biden for what the senator said was shifting the blame to the military for deciding not to shoot down the balloon sooner.
Biden told reporters over the weekend that he gave the order to deflate the balloon on Wednesday, but his advisers advised him to wait until it was safe and the debris hit civilians or buildings below.
“For me, it’s a duplicity. The responsibility for not acting sooner lies solely with President Biden,” Wilson said.
The hearings were also part of a broader push by lawmakers, particularly Republicans, to investigate widespread threats posed by China.
The House Financial Services Committee held hearings Tuesday morning to assess the economic threats posed by China, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is ready to consider US and Chinese policy in a hearing Thursday.
The Armed Forces hearing on Tuesday also came on the same day that Biden will deliver his State of the Union address, where he is expected to continue arguing for continued support for Ukraine as the Russian invasion nears a one-year mark.
While most experts don’t see war with China as inevitable, a US Air Force general recently predicted that the United States could go to war with China as early as 2025, likely over Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of China.
The Witnesses rejected the idea put forward by some Republicans that support for Ukraine and Taiwan is mutually exclusive.
“I believe that we should do our best for Ukraine, and at the same time, we have the opportunity to help Taiwan,” said Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., retired. “So it’s not binary, but we have to overcome politics on the Taiwan front, not so much on the Ukrainian front.”
Rep. Adam Smith, Washington State, a senior member of the committee, said war with China should not be seen as inevitable.
“Our goal is to create a world where China and the US can coexist peacefully,” Smith said. “I think it’s a dangerous mistake if we think we’re somehow going to ‘beat’ China, whatever that means.”
Lawmakers from both parties questioned witnesses about what the United States can do to deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan.
In his opening statement, Rep. Mike Rogers, Alabama, chairman of the committee, said China is committing human rights abuses, taking destabilizing actions, and outpacing the United States in military and technological innovation.
While lawmakers on both sides agreed with witnesses on the need to increase and accelerate support for Taiwan, Rep. Andy Kim, DN.J., expressed concern about the possibility that the executive would involve the United States in a war to protect Taiwan. without the consent of Congress.
“I really want us to be very careful about what red lines the executive can draw, especially when it’s something that potentially powers the full power of the United States military,” Kim said.
“This is something that I think we can all agree is the most sacred and important responsibility that this body can carry out, and we are here to represent that voice of the American people.”
Admiral Harris and Melanie W. Sisson, Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Fellow, stressed the importance of accelerating efforts to exchange U.S. nuclear submarine technology with Australia under a partnership signed in 2021 known as AUKUS.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to resolve this export control issue with Australia,” Harris said. “We may have the best intentions in the world, but we may be bound by our own rules and our own regulatory policies.”
Biden is expected to touch on U.S.-China relations in his second State of the Union address.
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. The last word On Monday evening, the president will touch on “his approach to foreign policy, how he asserts American leadership around the world, and, of course, our relationship with China.”