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Hudson Institute

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-40) who serves as chairwoman of the Indo-Pacific Subcommittee, joined the Hudson Institute for a conversation on America’s commitment to defend Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies and partners. 

Watch the full conversation HERE and read highlights below. 

On what Indo-Pacific countries say about the United States behind closed doors (WATCH) 

“It was probably a week or two before Indonesia was going to host ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, and so we met with Foreign Minister. Since I was the delegation leader, I sat right in front of her, and the first thing she said was ‘Why is President Biden not coming to Jakarta at a very critical summit that we’re hosting?’ I tried to provide the diplomatic response, since I am leading a bipartisan delegation, that it probably had to do with scheduling conflict, but he is sending Vice President Kamala Harris. And without a beat, Foreign Minister told me, ‘Well, she’s no president.’ And she didn’t hide her frustration and disappointment that the president will bypass Indonesia for ASEAN meeting, and then go to Vietnam. That’s when he visited Vietnam and then also elevated Vietnam’s status to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. While Vietnam appreciated President Biden being there, Jakarta certainly did not.”  

On better engaging ASEAN countries ahead of a Taiwan contingency (WATCH

“First thing we need to do is show up in our key engagements. For example, ASEAN, I know President Biden had his own reason for it. But they are located very closely to China. And our friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific are very much dependent on China for the economic relationship. They know they are feeling the economic coercion. They are constantly threatened by China’s presence militarily, physically coercing them in the South China Sea, Southeast Asia. And then we go and tell them that the United States is the partner of choice in the economic relationship, in the trade relationship, but we’re not showing up. That’s number one that we need to do. 

“We always ask about a Taiwan contingency. If something happens in the Taiwan strait, how would they respond? And they always tell us ‘It depends on the U.S.’s leadership.’” 

On what Congress is doing to support Taiwan (WATCH)

“I was appalled when I found out there was $21 billion worth of arms that Taiwan purchased – and paid for – and we have not delivered them. I immediately introduced the Arms Exports Delivery Solutions Act, and I think we have started delivering some, but we still have $19 billion worth of weapons that Taiwan paid for. We need to do that delivery of arms immediately. I’ve been very supportive of Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations. Recognize them as such a strong partner they are, especially during COVID, remember Taiwan has shown time and time again how reliable strategic health partner it is. Yet Taiwan doesn’t even have observer status at WHO. That was another bill I immediately introduced to recognize it.” 

On ensuring Taiwan doesn’t become the next Ukraine (WATCH

“I believe Taiwan is already doing what it needs to do. Look, they’re watching continued Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. How the United States responds to Ukraine and providing them with the additional support or equipping them with the arms they need to continue to fight. All of this they’re watching very closely. We don’t want Taiwan to become the next Ukraine. Which is why the United States is doing what we can, even though we currently have the challenges. Without a doubt, we need to continue to support Ukraine, whether directly, indirectly, and with the support of our allies, like Japan and South Korea are stepping up in that regard. All of this is being carefully watched, and Xi Jinping is eyeing Taiwan. Taiwan knows it, and President Tsai and then incoming President Lai and his new leadership in Taiwan – they know it. I think it was very telling when President Tsai met with us last year. She wasn’t asking us to provide boots on the ground. She was basically just asking us to deliver what they paid for, and they will work it out. We need to provide and show our strong support for our allies, partners that are fighting in conflict right now. Because Xi Jinping is watching this. And who else is watching? Kim Jong Un.” 

On the U.S.-Philippines relationship (WATCH)

“When we were in the Philippines, our delegation also flew over the South China Sea, and what we saw was congested water. We also saw Chinese Coast Guard harassing Philippine military vessels and fishermen. This was just a few weeks prior to that trip that our delegation was there, remember that Chinese Coast Guard fired water cannon at Philippine vessels at the same time. We actually went over there and met with the Philippine Coast Guard to show our continued strength because unlike other Southeast ASEAN nations, we have a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines. So, when the Philippines is attacked on the water, that treaty kicks in. That’s one of the reasons why we went there to show our continued support. It was interesting that particular trip we were flying over with our P8-A I believe, Poseidon. I’m very impressed with our U.S. Navy and the team of eight that helped us fly over. At that time, we were radioed in by Chinese Coast Guard, really intimidating us, telling us, ‘You are flying over our sovereign territory so why don’t you get out of here.’ Our pilot was calmly telling them, ‘Hey, we’re conducting our freedom of navigation and we have every right to be here. We’re just providing oversight and support for the Philippine vessels that are traveling to the Second Thomas Shoal.’ This is something that we’re going to continue to do, but we need to be present in the region. We need to be present with our economic engagement with our ASEAN countries. On all fronts, the key is showing up at key engagements, because I’ve heard this over and over again.” 

On the Biden administration ceding leverage to the Chinese Communist Party (WATCH

“Our State Department officials will go out of their way to be on a good side with our CCP officials. I mean last year, my committee was holding a subcommittee hearing and we were supposed to have top-level State Department official come and testify in front of our committee, and we got nixed. And the reason for that is because he needed to accompany Secretary Blinken on his trip to China that wasn’t going to happen until the end of that week and my hearing was on Wednesday. They told us the day before. They care about engaging with Chinese officials, bypassing Congress. That’s not okay with me.” 

On South Korea response to Taiwan contingency (WATCH) 

“On South Korea’s response, President Yoon is very pragmatic, very realistic. I see a lot of parallels, and this is what South Korea and Japan have both told us. […] While they will, I believe, be there with the United States if something happens in the Taiwan strait, but remember, South Korea is faced with immediate threat of North Korea. Protecting security concerns in the Korean peninsula is probably the number one concern in their mind, in President Yoon’s mind, and in South Korea for Koreans too.  

On importance of U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral partnership (WATCH

“We are living in a nanosecond times right now. Anything happens overseas, it affects us in all fields like globally, economically, security-wise, military-wise. That is why when we look at these conflicts around the world, I am really glad that Japan and South Korea have agreed to get beyond the historical challenges and moved ahead, looking forward. That is why Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon came to work together, because we face the common threat of countering the CCP specifically. We’re working in a trilateral way.” 

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