Sullivan Introduces S.T.A.N.D. with Taiwan Act

Legislation imposes crippling economic sanctions if China militarily invades Taiwan

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today introduced the Sanctions Targeting Aggressors of Neighboring Democracies (STAND) with Taiwan Act of 2022, which would impose crippling, comprehensive economic and financial sanctions on China in the event that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or its proxies initiate a military invasion of the island democracy of Taiwan. The suite of sanctions includes the targeting of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members and Chinese financial institutions and industrial sectors, as well as prohibiting U.S. financial institutions—including investment companies, private equity firms, venture capital firms, or hedge funds—from making any investments in a Chinese entity that benefits or is affiliated with the CCP. The bill would also prohibit the importation of certain goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly, or in part, in the People’s Republic of China. 

Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) will be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Sen. Sullivan spoke about the STAND with Taiwan Act in a speech on the Senate floor today.


Madam President, today I introduce the STAND with Taiwan Act of 2022, which would mandate comprehensive and devastating economic and financial sanctions against the Chinese Communist Party, key sectors of China's economy, and leaders in the Chinese Communist Party if the Chinese People's Liberation Army initiates a military invasion of the island democracy of Taiwan. Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin [will be introducing an identical bill in the House]. I am hopeful that when my colleagues come back from recess, the vast majority of senators here, Democrats and Republicans, will end up joining me in supporting this important bill.

Madam President, last March, in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, I posed this question to the INDOPACOM commander, Admiral Davidson: “Admiral, given the Chinese Communist Party's recent but long list of coercive and even violent actions—a hostile suppression of freedom in Hong Kong, threatening nuclear war with Japan, hand to hand combat with Indian soldiers in the Himalayas, economic blockades of Australia, genocide in its own Xinjiang province, and aggressive naval actions in the South China Sea—how do such actions impact your analysis, Admiral Davidson, on if and when China would invade Taiwan?”

His response to me in this hearing made news around the world. He called these recent actions by President Xi “alarming,” and then he said: “I think the threat of an invasion of Taiwan is manifest during this decade. In fact, in the next six years.”

Six years, Madam President. That is not a lot of time. The Senate needs to focus on this issue much more. Indeed, this issue is not unrelated to the actions of another dictator, Vladimir Putin, who is right now threatening and likely to invade one of his neighbors, Ukraine.

Now, some see the defense of Taiwan as a luxury we cannot afford in an age of sharpened great power competition and China's global economic strength. I reject that view. And, importantly, so does American law, particularly the Taiwan Relations Act, which this body passed in 1979 by a vote of 90 to 6, and among other things states the following: “The United States will consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area, and of grave concern.”

Madam President, the free world cannot be neutral in the contest between freedom and authoritarianism that is once again underway around the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. American alliances, power, and ingenuity help to build a world that provided more freedom and prosperity to more people than ever before. Think about this fact: the United States’ democracy, bolstered by our strong military, has done more to liberate humankind from oppression and tyranny—literally hundreds of millions of people—than any other force in human history.

The Chinese Communist Party knows exactly what it wants to accomplish: to make the world safe for its authoritarian government, to export its dictatorship model to other countries, to separate America from its democratic allies, and to erode U. S. leadership around the world. A world governed by Xi Jinping’s totalitarian vision would be a world unsafe for America and other democracies around the world. That is why Taiwan is so central to the free world and its future. It is a thriving, prosperous Chinese democracy that holds free elections and bounds its power by the rule of law. For that reason, Madam President, it threatens the CCP’s central premise that one man ruling in perpetuity, by crushing all dissent, knows what is best for 1.4 billion people.

The Chinese Communist Party has already crushed Hong Kong, once a bastion of liberty, and the free world barely raised its voice in protest. Should America and the world stand by as China does something similar to Taiwan, a peaceful democracy of 25 million people who have voted for an entirely different future, that would not simply undermine the security of the Western Pacific, as the Taiwan Relations Act says. A violent military takeover of Taiwan by the Chinese Communist Party would be a sea change in how the world is ordered. It would change the history of the 21st century in the way that the Guns of August of 1914 changed the 20th century.

Taiwan is not some peripheral sideshow in terms of global great power competition. It is the front line between freedom and tyranny, and like West Berlin was during the height of the Cold War, it matters everywhere.

Madam President, last month the magazine National Review highlighted many of these issues in an excellent issue which laid out the arguments for and against whether the United States military should come to Taiwan's aid if the island democracy was invaded by the Chinese military. Should our country militarily defend democratic Taiwan after the CCP launches a military invasion of the island?

This is a vitally important question which was front and center in National Review last month. As National Review points out, there's much disagreement on this issue. There are powerful arguments on both sides, as this issue admirably demonstrates.

But, Madam President, I believe there is much less disagreement on whether the United States should take actions now to deter a Chinese Communist Party military invasion of Taiwan in the future. Indeed, taking actions now to promote deterrence of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is an area where I believe there is broad bipartisan agreement and support in the United States Senate.

Deterrence comes in many forms, and with regard to Taiwan, I believe there are three crucial layers of deterrence as depicted here.

First is Taiwan's ability to militarily defend itself—the so-called “hedgehog” approach right here, where Taiwan musters sufficient self-defense capabilities to make a Chinese military invasion very difficult and very costly. 

The second layer of deterrence is America's capability and will to defend Taiwan militarily should the President of the United States decide to do so once there is an invasion by the Chinese. Over the past several decades, through many different crises in the Taiwan Strait, this layer—the American layer of deterrence—has proven to be decisive in keeping the Taiwanese people free. Our deep network of allies in the region augments this level of deterrence. 

Madam President, as it relates to deterrence in Taiwan, it is really often discussed only in these two layers. But there's a third layer that's depicted here, which, in terms of the present circumstances, might be the most important. That is the use of other instruments of American power beyond our military, such as our global economic and financial strengths, to deter China from an invasion. And that is exactly what my bill, the STAND with Taiwan Act of 2022, is all about.

The full name of this bill, Madam President, is Sanctions Targeting Aggressors of Neighboring Democracies—STAND—with Taiwan [Act]. It is a simple bill, but a very powerful one, especially in terms of its deterrent effect.

It states that if the Chinese Communist Party initiates a military invasion of Taiwan, the United States shall impose a comprehensive suite of mandatory economic and financial sanctions. The bill lays out these comprehensive sanctions, some of which are listed here in great detail. These sanctions would be crippling to the Chinese Communist Party, its leaders, and key sectors of China's economy.

The bill also calls on the United States to coordinate such comprehensive sanctions with our allies around the globe, with the goal of making the CCP an economic pariah globally if President Xi chooses to militarily invade Taiwan.

Madam President, the bill’s goal is to make very clear to President Xi today the true cost of what such a military invasion of Taiwan would be, thereby heightening deterrence, which we all in the U.S. Senate support.

Madam President, I believe the STAND with Taiwan Act of 2022 should receive broad bipartisan support. In many ways it reinforces the goals, policies and directives of the Taiwan Relations Act, which continues to have overwhelming support here in the United States Senate.

The defense of Taiwan is an issue that has been weaved in and out of the careers and professions of countless Americans, including my own. Over 25 years ago, in 1995 and ‘96, I was a Marine infantry officer deployed to the Taiwan Strait as part of a Marine amphibious task force and two U.S. carrier strike groups, all in response to the Chinese Party’s aggressive military provocations on the eve of presidential elections in Taiwan. The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis is what this period is now called.

That was an important and decisive demonstration of American commitment and resolve to an emerging democracy and partner that is still remembered today on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. 

More recently, I was part of another demonstration of American commitment and resolve when I traveled to Taiwan with Democratic senators Tammy Duckworth and Chris Coons to provide vaccines, close to a million, from the United States for the Taiwanese people in the face of the Chinese Communist Party's aggressive attempts to prevent the citizens of Taiwan from receiving these life-saving Western medicines.

I am now a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves, working again on these issues in the INDOPACOM theater.

Madam President, let me conclude with this: American commitment and resolve for Taiwan has been part of our law, heritage, trade, economics and military deployments for decades, and should be for decades to come. 

The STAND with Taiwan Act of 2022 is the next logical step to demonstrate America's commitment to Taiwan—this time emphasizing the deterrent power of our economic and financial strengths. It is our values of freedom, innovation, the rule of law, individual rights and openness that the Chinese Communist Party is most afraid of.

We must be ready as democracies to defend these values or risk a world increasingly governed by autocracy, surveillance, aggression, and permanent conflict. The STAND with Taiwan Act will help us do just that.

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