Communist China is on a mission for dominance. At the helm of the New Axis of Evil, China has indicated they will invade independent countries and destroy democratic leadership to achieve that end. My recent visit to Taiwan made it abundantly clear that the leaders in Taiwan want the United States and our allies to stand with them as they fight to keep their independence.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always viewed non-conformity to them as a threat. In Xinjiang province, state leadership continues to wage genocide against the Muslim Uyghur minority, and in Hong Kong, the CCP led a hostile takeover of the local democratic government. However, this authoritarian aggression has faced overwhelming opposition in Taiwan. In spite of Beijing's demands for reunification and reeducation, over half of the island's citizens support independence. President Trump knew this and recognized Taiwan on the world stage by intentionally strengthening America's relationships with Taiwan instead of with the Chinese Communist Party. However, President Xi Jinping views this momentum toward a free Taiwan as a direct challenge to his authority. Desperate to silence dissenters and guarantee a historic third term in office this year, President Xi launched a new round of military exercises intended to scare the world into silence.
These demonstrations escalated following Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip in early August but did not dissuade me from making my own journey to the Indo-Pacific. After stops in Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea, I met with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu to express America's support. I also delivered remarks before Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where I publicly reaffirmed America's backing of Taiwan in front of dozens of diplomats and ambassadors. When the CCP heard my speech, they responded directly to my office by doubling down on their denials of Taiwan's independence and levying veiled threats to regional stability.
This unhinged response is indicative of how much China has to lose. A reunified Taiwan would grant China more control over the South China Sea. In addition to being a strategic military stronghold, the South China Sea also plays host to one third of all maritime trade. In terms of production, Taiwan is a powerhouse: more than 90% of all advanced semiconductor chips, which are essential for cars, medical technology, and modern appliances, are made in Taiwan.
Without access to Taiwan's semiconductor market, the United States' economy would suffer. Domestic producers are working quickly to fill potential gaps in the supply chain, but in the meantime, Chinese aggression poses a direct threat to the emerging domestic vehicle production industry in Tennessee. When I talk with folks in the Volunteer State, they are frustrated that more is not being done to stand up to the CCP. In response, I have introduced legislation to secure semiconductor supply chains and strengthen relationships with our partners in the Indo-Pacific Region. My visit to Taiwan took these efforts a step further by demonstrating to China that we will not relent in our defense of democracy.
While it would be easy to ignore what is happening overseas, Tennesseans aren't content leaving this up to diplomats. We know the danger that China poses and that there is no path to countering China through cowardice. Tennesseans stand with Taiwan, and they expect the White House and Congress to follow suit. With the United States leading the way, Taiwan will remain sovereign and the New Axis of Evil will not win. If the United States backs down, China's dominance is all but guaranteed.