Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said a top representative of Taiwan in the United States recently gave a simple answer when asked to name the “single most important thing” that could be done to protect the island from being invaded by China.

“The representative said it would be to provide funding support for Ukraine,” Romney, a Republican, said during a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing Tuesday on U.S. policy in Taiwan, adding that he is “very pleased we finally got that done.”

Last week, a $95.3 billion national security package that includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and imposes additional sanctions on Iran and forces ByteDance to sell TikTok passed Congress after months of delay in the House and was signed by President Joe Biden.

Romney, who serves as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, said there’s a message behind the foreign aid to countries.

“I think it sends a signal to would-be aggressors around the world, that we will stand by our commitments and that we honor and respect the rights of democratic people to retain their freedoms and their vision for their own livelihoods,” he said.

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In Taiwan, Romney said there have been “number of troubling developments” as a result of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stated goal of reunification with Taiwan, including threatening military moves as well as economic pressures and even disinformation campaigns in the island’s recent election.

“It is our hope that Taiwan can be an aggressive competitor with China and with other nations, even with us,” the Utah senator said, adding the investment in Taiwan’s military is intended to help ensure the country won’t be “conquered by China.”

Although the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the two nations have a “robust unofficial relationship,” the State Department says. Those ties are “stronger than ever,” the hearing’s sole witness, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, testified.

Kritenbrink spoke in favor of maintaining the “status quo” of that framework, in place for some 45 years, warning that changing the country’s policy would undermine stability. More protective, he said, is to focus on building Taiwan’s deterrent capabilities and expanding international support.


Romney, however, suggested several times that China appears to be more successful in winning other nations over to its position on Taiwan. The Utah senator pointed to China’s efforts to build roads and other infrastructure in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean “while we’re asleep at the wheel.”

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Kritenbrink said he “remains confident in our standing in these regions and what we have to offer.” He said the U.S. attempts to alert other countries to be careful in their dealings with China “to ensure they’re not making themselves vulnerable to coercion” over the long term.

But Romney said China’s “much stronger presence,” brings into question the billions spent by the U.S. on charitable development. “China tends to do what’s in their self interest, establishing mines and rail lines and ports that will strengthen their economy and their position on the global stage.”

America, Romney said, needs “to go from just doing things that are humanitarian and showing what we stand for to instead doing things that are actually in our best interest and promote our national security and the strength of our own economy. We’re pretending like we’re in a world where we don’t have a competitor, and we do.”

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