US could tap China's 'greatest fear' with one move, expert says

China vows 'forceful' measures against US after House Speaker McCarthy meets with Taiwan's president

As China vows to take "resolute and forceful" measures against Taiwan after its president’s meeting with U.S. lawmakers, one foreign policy expert signaled the Chinese Communist Party’s strong words could be knocked down like a facade with one swift move from American defenses.

"[China's] greatest fear is that we will go ahead and announce that Taiwan is not a part of China. We've come close to that over the last 50 years, Japan gave it up in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, but no one's ever been assigned Taiwan," Hudson Institute Director of the Center on Chinese Strategy Michael Pillsbury said Friday on "Varney & Co."

On Thursday, Beijing's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed it would take action to "defend [its] sovereignty and territorial integrity," urging that the U.S. "not go further down the wrong and dangerous path."

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was joined by a bipartisan group to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this week, reportedly discussing America’s "unwavering support" for Taiwan amid rising, hostile political and military tensions with China, the speaker had said in a press conference.


While talks about Taiwan-China relations are taking place at home, a separate group of bipartisan lawmakers, led by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, is on a three-day trip to Taipei where they’re expecting to discuss delayed weapon delivery.

Joe Biden meets Xi Jinping

President Biden is playing a "dangerous game" with China, Hudson Institute Director of the Center on Chinese Strategy Michael Pillsbury said Friday on "Varney & Co." (Getty Images)

"That's the real issue — if there is an attack and use of force, Taiwan says it will announce 'we're independent,' and provoke an even greater conflict," Pillsbury said. "So this is a dangerous game that the Biden administration is playing, by not forwarding these weapons to Taiwan, that Taiwan has paid for."

"The delegation in Taiwan right now from Congress, bipartisan delegation, they're making this point: Where are these $19 billion worth of weapons, once paid for, but never been delivered? Part of it may be the drawdown because of Ukraine," the expert continued.

China recognizes that no country has a declared military alliance with Taiwan and feels the U.S. is distracted by the war in Ukraine, Pillsbury argued while noting White House officials have been "quite vague" about the support American forces are willing to give.

"It looks like the Chinese believe that the Americans are too tied down, too bogged down with the Ukrainian effort, and therefore they might not come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a limited attack," the Hudson Institute director said. "They see Taiwan more as a duck that's waiting to be attacked, not a really strong power and certainly not yet a porcupine."


The Biden administration is "playing with fire" while China has a "wide range of options" for retaliation, the policy expert warned, while urging caution when within the CCP’s territory.

"This is Chinese territorial waters, so they have the right to stop and search any ship that goes there. They claim that our aircraft carriers when they pass through need permission from China. We don't ask for permission," Pillsbury said. "So there's a very wide range of options China can choose from. On the American side, our range of options is very limited, very narrow, given our past policy."


Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.