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Missouri Congressman Mark Alford says the U.S. must continue to support Taiwan

Congressman Mark Alford, R-Cass County, said he supports an effort to compensate people in the St. Louis area who became sick due to radioactive waste exposure.
Courtesy of Congressman Alford's office
U.S. Rep. Mark Alford, R-Cass County, talked with The Politically Speaking Hour on St. Louis on the Air about his recent trip to Taiwan.

It’s been over a week since Congress put the finishing touches on a foreign aid package to help Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

And while much of the attention and focus is around opposition to providing military assistance to Ukraine and Israel, there’s been less debate about helping Taiwan blunt any potential invasion from China.

U.S. Rep. Mark Alford, R-Cass County, recently traveled to Taiwan as part of a bipartisan delegation. In an interview earlier this week on The Politically Speaking Hour on St. Louis on the Air, Alford stressed that both Congress and the executive branch need to remain focused on stemming China’s growing influence.

“I know we don't officially recognize them as a nation, but they are very independent-minded people, a beautiful island that needs our help,” Alford said. “They need our help in deterring the Communist Chinese from further aggression.”

China has long maintained that Taiwan is part of its territory, even though Taiwan is a representative democratic republic compared to China’s one-party communist state.

When asked if the $8 billion in aid to Taiwan could lead to an inference that the United States considers the island to be an independent country, Alford replied, “I think that's always a possibility.”

Recent polling shows that the vast majority of Taiwanese respondents prefer the status quo, as opposed to reunification with China or a declaration of independence.

“We do have key provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, which include making available to Taiwan the defense articles and services that they need to maintain a sufficient self defense capability,” Alford said. “That's what we've agreed to, and we need to live up to that capability, no matter what lies down the road. It's the same as President Reagan said, peace through strength.”

China is nearly 60 times larger in terms of population than Taiwan — which Alford acknowledged would make any Chinese potential invasion daunting to combat.

He added that it makes sense to aid the Taiwanese when China is trying to expand its reach around the globe.

“They are building investments through the Belt and Road Initiative in our hemisphere. They are intent on having an influence,” Alford said. “They're building ports, airports, seaports, roadways, and bridges to where they can exert pressure on these nations and supplant us as a leading economic and world power.”

Alford voted for Israel aid but against Ukraine assistance

Members of the House had the opportunity to vote on whether to aid Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel separately. Alford backed military assistance for Israel but voted against aiding Ukraine.

Some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, suggested that aid to Ukraine should come in the form of a loan. But there’s been no such push to make aid to Israel or Taiwan a loan even though the governments in both countries could hypothetically pay for military equipment themselves.

Rep. Alford joins The Politically Speaking Hour on St. Louis on the Air

Alford said aiding Taiwan makes sense, but a war with China could have a devastating impact on the world economy. He also said it was important to aid Israel because “they are a leader, a beacon of hope and freedom and democracy in the Mideast.”

“I believe that they are God's chosen people, that this is their land, they are willing to live in harmony if those other people who are in that land are willing to live alongside them as well,” Alford said. “But that has been the issue. They do not want Israel to be there. They do not want the State of Israel to exist.”

Alford has been against Ukrainian aid because he said U.S. military personnel can’t provide a clear case about what “victory looks like.”

“Taxpayers should not be continuing to fund this mission until we know what victory is defined as,” he said.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Ulaa Kuziez, Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr, and the production intern is Roshae Hemmings. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.