Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Sunday said President Biden’s trip to East Asia beginning last week was “sixteen months too late,” slamming the president for being “asleep at the switch” on the rising national security dangers posed by China.
Cotton, who serves on the armed services and intelligence committees in the Senate, told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo that he wished Biden had traveled to Asia “early in his tenure,” and not more than a year into his presidency.
“It’s important for the president to visit our allies in the Western Pacific. I think it’s coming about sixteen months too late, because China’s the number one threat we face,” Cotton said.
“And, unfortunately, Joe Biden’s actions right now just are not backing up any words,” Cotton continued. “China is still closing the gap with us militarily. They’re gaining diplomatic ground by opening potential port access in Western Pacific states where Joe Biden and his administration had been caught asleep at the switch.”
Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the current scale of espionage and cybersecurity threats from China were “unprecedented in history.” The U.S. has also expressed alarm at Beijing’s military expansion in the South China Sea and warned that China is learning from Russia’s war on Ukraine with its own ambitions of controlling Taiwan in mind.
Biden traveled to South Korea on Friday to meet with the country’s newly elected president before heading on to Tokyo to meet with leaders of Japan, India and Australia in a joint security partnership dubbed the Quad.
The visit is seen a warning shot to China amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, coming just days after Biden hosted Southeast Asian leaders in Washington.
China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi warned U.S. officials last week not to play the “Taiwan card” during the trip.
Cotton told Bartiromo that Biden needs to “take firmer action, not simply talk tough” on China to deter them from hostile actions like an invasion of Taiwan. The senator said funding Ukraine so they could beat back Russian invaders was a good place to start.
“Jinping will invade Taiwan in the next five years if the United States does not take strong action to deter it,” Cotton said. “That starts in part by showing him that we have the resolve to help Ukraine to the end, especially after the debacle in Afghanistan, which only emboldened people like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.”