Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he would defend Taiwan from a potential invasion from China until the U.S. gains independence on manufacturing semiconductors, something he says will happen by 2028 if he’s elected president.
Appearing on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” Ramaswamy was asked how he’d go about rebuilding the weakened U.S. Navy, to which he responded by highlighting the country’s need of semiconductors.
“The top U.S. interest today where our naval capacity’s shortages actually leave us vulnerable is indeed in the case of Taiwan,” Ramaswamy said Monday.
“We are dependent on a tiny island nation off the southeast coast of China for our entire modern way of life in the United States of America. I think many Americans need to internalize that fact. We would not live a modern lifestyle if it were not for the global semiconductor supply chain, specifically leading-edge advanced semiconductors that come from Taiwan. That’s a great vulnerability for us, especially as we enter a period where I believe that China is likely to make a move to annex Taiwan in the next decade. I think that’s a real threat that we face. And our naval shortcoming or naval capacity shortcoming is one of the big vulnerabilities that makes that more likely to happen.”
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Radio host Hugh Hewitt pressed Ramaswamy on whether he’d “fire the first shot” against China if they were aiming to invade Taiwan. The GOP hopeful responded by suggesting it depends on whether the U.S. has already gained “semiconductor independence” from Taiwan.
“So, one of my objectives is by the end of my first term, I believe I will lead us towards semiconductor independence. During that time, I’m going to be very clear, move from strategic ambiguity in Taiwan to strategic clarity, where I am crystal clear with China that you do not make a move on that island because I refuse to put China in a position to hold an economic gun to our head,” Ramaswamy said. “We’ll take destroyers from the group we have in Japan, take one per month, move it through that Taiwan Strait. … This is something that actually will send a strong signal to China they will not take the risk of making that move, especially if they know that the U.S. is only biding our time until we have semiconductor independence. That’s where strategic clarity actually helps us.”
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Ramaswamy also pointed to India as being a military ally in the region to defend Taiwan, even floating the idea of “putting a gun in every Taiwanese household” and “training them how to use it.”
“That’s what I’m going to do, Hugh, to make sure that we don’t put ourselves in that position,” Ramaswamy told the host. “China will have no reason to aggress towards Taiwan between now and the end of my first term in 2028 if we show we’re serious about it, but by being strategically clear that that commitment changes after we’ve achieved semiconductor independence. Now put yourself in [Chinese President] Xi Jinping’s shoes. He has no interest in taking that risk.”
He continued, “And the truth of the matter is, there are two reasons why China wants to annex Taiwan. One is to squat on the semiconductor supply chain, so they can exert leverage over the United States of America. That’s not happening on my watch. I take a firm position on that. But the second reason why is that they have unfinished nationalistic business dating back to their civil war in 1949. And if that’s the sole basis for Xi Jinping going after Taiwan, after we have semiconductor independence, then you know what, I am not going to send our sons and daughters to die over that conflict. And that’s consistent with my position on Ukraine as well.”
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When asked if China should “draw the conclusion” based on his stance that he’s willing to “sink Chinese ships” upon an invasion of Taiwan prior to 2028, Ramaswamy said, “We are going to go to full lengths to make sure that you do not mess with Taiwan,” reiterating military might in the region but adding “that commitment is only as far as 2028, by which point I will have led the United States of America to achieve semiconductor independence. And we will not take the risk of war that risks American lives.”
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“What’s clear to me is that you are saying, ‘I will go to war, including attacking the Chinese mainland, if you attack before semiconductor independence, and afterwards, you can have Taiwan. So, if you just wait until 2029, you may have Taiwan. Is that clear?’” Hewitt said. “I mean, that’s what you’re saying: ‘I’ll go to war until 2028.’”
“Hugh, I want to be the next president, so I expect to be the president inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2025. So, I’m wearing that hat when I’m choosing my words very carefully right now,” Ramaswamy responded. “And I’m being very clear. Xi Jinping should not mess with Taiwan until we have achieved semiconductor independence, until the end of my first term, when I will lead us there. And after that, our commitments to Taiwan and our commitments to be willing to go to military conflict will change after that because that’s rationally in our self-interest. That is honest. That is true. And that is credible.”