Sen. Marco Rubio, on the U.S. Senate East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy Subcommittee, turned his attention to Chinese aggression last week.
The Florida Republican is looking to impose sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies that “participate in Beijing’s illegitimate activities to aggressively assert its expansive maritime and territorial claims” in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Last week, Rubio brought back the “South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act” as the U.S. continues to stand for freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the region. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., is the main cosponsor but more than a dozen other senators, including U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., are also cosponsoring the proposal.
Rubio weighed in on why he had introduced the bill.
“This bipartisan bill seeks to reinforce America’s strong and enduring commitment to securing a free and open Indo-Pacific, including in the South China Sea and East China Sea,” Rubio said. “Because the Chinese Government’s ongoing and flagrant violations of international norms in the South China and East China Seas cannot go unchecked, this legislation authorizes new sanctions to put Beijing on notice that the United States means business and intends to hold violators accountable.”
“China has been bully in both the South and East China Seas, encroaching on and intimidating its neighbors. Such aggressive behavior cannot go on unchecked,” Cardin said. “The United States will defend the free-flow of commerce and freedom of navigation, as well as promote the peaceful diplomatic resolution of disputes consistent with international law. I am pleased to join Senator Rubio and our colleagues to send a strong bipartisan message in defense of our national interests and those of our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Our legislation underscores America’s continued commitment to promote freedom and uphold the rule of law in East Asia.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. So far, there in no companion measure in the U.S. House.
Also last week, Rubio thew his support behind U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s, R-Col., “Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act" which would create a “U.S. strategy to engage with governments around the world to support Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition and strengthen unofficial ties with Taiwan” and “authorizes the State Department to downgrade U.S. relations with any government that takes adverse actions with regard to Taiwan, and authorizes the State Department to suspend or alter U.S. foreign assistance to governments that take adverse actions with regard to Taiwan.”
“The United States should use every tool to support Taiwan’s standing on the international stage,” Gardner said when he introduced the bill last week. “This bipartisan legislation demands a whole-of-government approach to stand up to China’s bullying tactics, and will send a strong message to nations that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan. I will continue to advocate on behalf of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, as guided by United States law, including my Asia Reassurance Initiative Act that President Trump just signed into law.”
“China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan by bullying and pressuring countries, especially in our own Hemisphere, cannot go unanswered.” Rubio said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing legislation that reaffirms our commitment to the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and allows for the State Department to take diplomatic action against governments that alter diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China.”