William Katz:  Urgent Agenda







FOCUSING THE SPOTLIGHT – OVERNIGHT:  If there's one hotspot that might flash into armed conflict, it's Taiwan.  Some call it "Free China."  Its formal name is "The Republic of China."  It is a large island off the coast of red China, and red China wants it.  Now a Senate delegation is about to visit Taiwan, and the mainland Chinese government will not be pleased.  From Fox:

Three top U.S. senators will visit Taiwan to meet with its top leaders Sunday amid a period of tense relations between the United States and China.

Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, are making the visit as part of a broader trip to Asia, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, which announced the visit Saturday.

"The bipartisan congressional delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest," the organization said in a statement.

The move will likely anger China, since that country was upset when President Biden asked former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and other former State Department officials to visit Taiwan earlier this year. The U.S. also moved to relax guidelines around communication between U.S. officials and Taiwan. The Chinese government said the U.S. should "stop immediately all official interactions with the Taiwan region."

U.S.-China ties remain strained over issues ranging from the independence of Taiwan and Hong Kong to the Chinese persecution of Uighur Muslims to China's broad military and economic claims in the South China sea.

China claims Taiwan, which functions as a democracy under an elected government, as its own territory. The United States does not have official diplomatic ties to Taiwan but still engages with Taiwan commercially and through unofficial diplomatic channels. And members of Congress regularly visit the island as a way to show their support for its democracy and demonstrate strength against China.

The Trump administration moved to increase relations with Taiwan and according to Council on Foreign Relations fellow David Sacks, "The Biden administration has signaled that it will largely pick up where the Trump administration left off."

In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the "bipartisan commitment to Taiwan" and "making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself… will absolutely endure in a Biden administration."

"Our support for Taiwan is rock solid," a State Department spokesperson told Fox News earlier this year. "We are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan – a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner."

China has also recently sent fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers to fly over Taiwan and the U.S. has flexed its military muscles in the region too.

COMMENT:  Please note the last paragraph.  There are constant provocations involving Taiwan.  China would consider it a decisive victory over the United States if it took Taiwan, which can only be done militarily.

Given America's current weakness, internal turmoil, and a hostility to national defense in the governing party, a Chinese general might well calculate that this is a good time to strike Taiwan, and pass that recommendation on to his country's president.  Miscalculation is a serious possibility when dealing with the Taiwan issue.  So is the clear chance that we could lose a clash with China, resulting in our Asian allies losing confidence in our pledge to stand at their side.

June 5, 2021