Senate Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to provide public and classified briefings to lawmakers on U.S strategy toward China and policy regarding Taiwan.
The request comes amid rising tensions after China’s Peoples Liberation Army Air Force flew nearly 150 warplanes into Taiwanese airspace over four days late last week and early this week.
U.S. officials also confirmed Thursday that U.S. special operations forces and Marines have been training military forces in Taiwan to defend the island against a Chinese invasion for at least a year. The presence of the U.S. forces, who are training both Taiwanese maritime and ground forces, was first disclosed by a report in The Wall Street Journal.
“Regular and timely briefings and hearings on these matters are critical to ensure senators have the best available knowledge to make necessary decisions and perform important oversight responsibilities on U.S. strategy and policy,” the lawmakers wrote.
Six members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, said in a letter to Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, and Ranking Member Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican, that “concerning developments among the United States, China, and Taiwan” require increased congressional insight into “the direction of U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China” driven by the administration.
“The 21st century will be largely defined by whether the United States and its allies and partners meet the diplomatic, economic, technological, and military challenges posed by China,” the lawmakers wrote.
In their letter, the lawmakers requested that the committee hold regular classified briefings and hear public testimony from State Department and Pentagon officials on U.S. strategy.
Mr. Hagerty was joined by Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Todd Young of Indiana in drafting the letter.
The senators also raised concerns over recent remarks in which President Biden told members of the press that he had spoken with President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping and agreed that the U.S. and China would “abide by the Taiwan agreement.”
The lawmakers said it was unclear at what point Mr. Biden had spoken with Mr. Xi — whether before China’s recent incursions into U.S. airspace, or after. They also questioned the specific agreement Mr. Biden was referring to — whether the president meant the U.S.’s longstanding policy in the region, or a newly-formed and yet undisclosed agreement between the three countries.
“Because these are increasingly urgent foreign policy matters, making unclear statements and stances about U.S. policy harms our national security,” they wrote.
Amid the heightened tensions, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Yang Jiechi, Chinese Communist Party politburo member and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission, on Wednesday in Zurich, Switzerland. Mr. Sullivan addressed several U.S. concerns with the People’s Republic of China’s recent actions concerning Taiwan, according to a readout of the meeting.