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U.S. Sen. Rubio introduces bill to beef up air bases that would defend Taiwan

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (Miami Herald/TNS)
May 13, 2023

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill Thursday that seeks to strengthen American air bases in the Indo-Pacific region to better respond to mainland Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

The Deterring Chinese Preemptive Strikes Act “direct[s] the U.S. Department of Defense to harden U.S. facilities in the Indo-Pacific to help further deter a preemptive strike against U.S. forces and assets in the region by China ahead of an invasion of Taiwan.”

War games conducted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies showed that Beijing’s strategy if it were to mount such an invasion would be to attack U.S. bases in the region with missiles, a statement by Rubio’s office said. 

The bill calls for a survey of aviation assets in the region to determine if any that would be needed to respond to an invasion of Taiwan lack improvements that would “mitigate damage to aircraft in the event of a missile, aerial drone, or other form of attack by the People’s Republic of China.”

When the survey is complete, the secretary of defense would then deliver the results of the survey to the appropriate congressional committees, which would then enact plans to make the improvements.

“Senator Rubio has been clear on the importance of defending Taiwan,” a representative from Rubio’s office told RFA’s Mandarin Service, citing the Taiwan Protection and National Resilience Act, a bill that Rubio and colleagues introduced in March that seeks to create a plan for dealing with a potential invasion. 

When asked if U.S. lawmakers were working with President Biden to prevent threats to U.S. airspace, Rubio’s office was critical of the administration, saying it “appears to be more concerned about not antagonizing China instead of taking the steps needed to protect American servicemembers from future attacks.”

Mainland communist China considers democratic Taiwan to be a rogue province. Beijing insists that its diplomatic partners accept its claim on the island of Taiwan, which it calls the “one China” policy, effectively forcing them to cut ties with the democratic island. 

Beijing last month conducted military exercises in waters around the island of Taiwan, prompting Taipei’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu to say, “They seem to be trying to get ready to launch a war against Taiwan.”

In February, CIA Director William Burns said that Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to be able to invade Taiwan within the next four years.