Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has claimed that, as president, he could prevent Beijing from invading Taiwan Candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis trade barbs during the Republican primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama © Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

The top national security priority of the US should be “deterring China’s ambitions,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared during the Republican primary debate on Wednesday.

Asked by moderator Megyn Kelly whether he would send US troops to the region “if China invades Taiwan,” DeSantis appeared to sidestep the question, instead insisting he would prevent such a scenario with a “strategy of denial.”

“Deterring China’s ambitions is the number one national security task that I will do as president, and we will succeed,” he stated. “The 21st century needs to be an American century. We cannot let it be a Chinese century.”

Nikki Haley insists on WW3 if Ukraine loses Nikki Haley insists on WW3 if Ukraine loses

Read more

Nikki Haley insists on WW3 if Ukraine loses

When Kelly pushed him to explain how he would respond to Beijing’s hypothetical invasion, asking what he would do if his strategy of deterrence failed, he insisted, “It’s going to work,” citing “longstanding American policy” and the fact that “Taiwan’s an ally.”

“Taiwan is important, not just because of semiconductors,” DeSantis continued, warning that if the island fell, China would “be able to dominate commerce in the entire Indo-Pacific. They will use that to export authoritarianism all around the world, including here in the United States.”

The Republican candidate’s onstage opponents echoed his hawkish rhetoric. Claiming China “want[ed] to destroy the West,” former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley joined asset manager Vivek Ramaswamy in stressing the urgency of uncoupling Washington’s economy from Beijing’s, insisting “we have to make sure we are not relying on China for anything related to our national security.”

“We depend on them for our modern way of life,” Ramaswamy agreed, blaming that dependence for what he framed as Washington’s fear of “going hard” against its rival and vowing to unequivocally “defend Taiwan” from China.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, whose low poll numbers meant he barely qualified for the debate, also said that he would “go militarily and defend” Taiwan if China invaded, regardless of the negative economic consequences.

“These economic relationships mean nothing if what’s going to happen is that China is going to come and act in that region of the world however they see fit,” he insisted.

While former President Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican field by double digits, DeSantis, who previously enjoyed a comfortable second place, has lost some ground to Haley since her endorsement by Americans for Prosperity, the super-PAC run by Republican power-brokers the Koch brothers, earlier this month.

A NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll conducted prior to Wednesday’s debate found 11% of Republican voters favored DeSantis as opposed to 10% choosing Haley. The same poll showed 60% of voters continued to support Trump, who has deliberately skipped the season’s primary debates thus far, holding his own campaign events on the same dates.

While the US officially supports a One-China policy, regarding Beijing as the “sole legal government of China,” it spends billions of dollars arming Taiwan annually. (RT)