WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) has introduced bicameral legislation to protect the island nation of Taiwan and deter aggressive behavior by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

With the support of Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in the Senate, Moore introduced the Deterring Economic Aggression Through Retaliation (DETER) Act in the House Ways and Means Committee on June 3.

“Xi Jinping (the president of the People’s Republic of China since 2013) has openly stated that he aims to conquer and ‘reunify’ Taiwan, building up China’s military posture for that very purpose,” according to Moore. “A crisis in the Taiwan Strait (which separates Taiwan from mainland China) … would be catastrophic for American families, jobs and livelihoods.

“Sen. Lankford and I believe that we need to send Communist China a message that changes their calculus and prevents an invasion (of Taiwan).”

“The DETER Act will leverage China’s access to the American markets to deter further aggression and allow the U.S. to immediately act in the event that Beijing invades Taiwan,” agreed Lankford, across the Capitol building in the Senate.

“We must not wait until a war has started,” he insists. “We must act now to put China on notice and ultimately deter the Chinese Communist Party from invading Taiwan.”

Moore’s staff members explained that the DETER Act aims to avert a future crisis in the Taiwan Strait between China and the island of Taiwan by revoking China’s favored nation status with the United States if the Chinese Communist Party engages in an act of military aggression or serious economic coercion – for example, a blockade – that violates the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Taiwan.

The issue of Taiwan has been a thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist Party since 1949 when the defeated Nationalist Chinese fled there following the communist take-over of the mainland.

Since that time, Taiwan has been governed independently and has become an economic powerhouse in the Pacific region, particularly a center for the manufacture of vital computer chips. Over the years, its 23 million people and their political leaders have differing views on the island’s status and relations with the mainland.

As always, however, the People’s Republic of China views Taiwan as a renegade province and has recently renewed its vow to reunify the island with the mainland by 2027 through military force if necessary.

Cross-strait tensions have escalated since the election of former Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, according to experts at the Council on Foreign Relations based here in Washington. Tsai refused to accept a formula advanced by her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, who endorsed allowing increased cross-strait ties.

Meanwhile, Beijing has taken increasingly aggressive actions, which includes flying fighter jets near the island. Some analysts fear a Chinese attack on Taiwan has the potential to draw the United States into a war with China.

Moore and Lankford hope to reduce that potential for open conflict by emphasizing to Beijing what the economic consequences of an attack on Taiwan would be.

China currently enjoys “most favored nation status” in trade with the United States, giving them preferential access to U.S. markets with fewer tariff barriers. The DETER Act would revoke that status if China continues aggressive acts toward Taiwan.

The proposed legislation would also require U.S. federal agencies to regularly evaluate U.S. trade and supply chain vulnerabilities that would be impacted by that revocation of China’s favored nation status and suggest proposals to mitigate those risks and reduce reliance on China in the meantime.

Moore’s staff members say that Congress quickly revoked Russia’s favored nation status after its invasion of the Ukraine in February of 2022. But, they add, Russia’s miscalculation of Western resolve was partly because the U.S. failed to send clear signals of the economic consequences before that invasion occurred.

“There are times for unpredictability in matters of foreign policy,” Moore acknowledges. “There are also times for telling our potential adversaries exactly what the consequences of their actions would look like.”

As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Moore’s proposed legislation was advanced for consideration by that panel.

The House Ways and Means Committee holds jurisdiction over all foreign trade and revenue-raising measure in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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