Margaret Brennan: China began its most dramatic display of military force in decades with four days of war games off the coast of Taiwan in response to Speaker Pelosi, who led a congressional delegation to the self-governing island, last week.
Margaret Brennan: We are now joined by Congressman Gregory Meeks, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Good morning to you, Congressman.
Representative Gregory Meeks: Good morning. It’s nice to be with you.
Margaret Brennan: Well, you’re traveling around the world, but I think you’ll be back in Washington very soon to vote on this huge spending bill. It’s a big win, potentially, but it’s one-tenth the size of the president’s original question. What is about to happen and is this slash in gas prices enough to help the Democrats win in November?
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS: No question. This is a big and important bill. It reduces inflation. This ensures that we can now bring down drug prices. It helps fight climate change. And- and we’ll move on. This goes on top of already bipartisan victories during this Congress such as bipartisan victories in infrastructure, gun control, the Chips and Science Act, the Pact Act for Veterans, the selection committee, the first black woman elected or the supreme Court was appointed. So yes, it is on the cake to pursue Democratic achievements in a bipartisan manner this election year.
Margaret Brennan: But despite what you just laid out, I know you know that many polls, including CBS, predicted that Republicans would win a majority in the House. can you reverse it?
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS: Oh, absolutely. I think the conversation as we’re entering the crucial months of September and October, look, we’ve always had a low unemployment rate. And we see a court that is regressive. And we are trying to take away a woman’s right to choose and we are fighting and standing for that.
Margaret Brennan: In your trip to Taiwan, we’ve seen these dramatic Chinese war games. In response to this visit, China cut off some diplomatic ties with the United States to protest the fact that you accompanied Speaker Pelosi to Taipei. Did this visit undermine some of the Biden administration’s priorities?
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS: Absolutely not, you know, clearly the Biden administration by their presence, and increasing economic ties there, is something that shows this area is very important. And President Biden being a private-former member of the Senate understands, you know, the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. And so that’s what we have to do at this point in time, because it’s very clearly- this is very clearly a tense moment on the Taiwan Strait and so it’s very important that all sides respect the status quo, which we did while there, And don’t resort to force or change things. And it is equally important that the United States, we have redoubled our economic, cultural and security cooperation with Taiwan to counter Beijing’s aggression. So it was a very fitting visit for the area at the time. And I think when we spoke to the people of Taiwan, they were appreciative of our presence there. You may have noticed that over 250,000 Taiwanese have seen our flight flying over the tallest building in Taiwan, the big sign saying we love you Nancy Pelosi–
Margaret Brennan: Mmm-hmm.
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS: When we were driving to our hotel people were lined up on the streets. So clearly the Taiwanese were very happy–
Margaret Brennan: No doubt.
Rep Meeks: Let me tell you. We were—all our allies, all our allies and friends in the region, and all the other countries we visited—were very happy that we were there.
Margaret Brennan: But Beijing was- Beijing was furious. He cut climate change talks with the United States, he cut other cooperation. And in fact, while Beijing said it was an issue that the US and China, two of the world’s most powerful nations, could come into conflict with Beijing, the visit of the third-highest-ranking official in the US government on a military plane was “provocative,” and Sends a strong signal that the US is on Taiwan’s side. Is America on Taiwan’s side?
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS: We didn’t do anything like that – if you look at the provocateur, the people who were sending missiles over Taiwan and China were actually Beijing. This was nothing unusual, this year members of Congress have traveled to Taiwan before. I have traveled to Taiwan many times, I have traveled to China. But we’re not going to allow that, and Speaker Pelosi is absolutely right about that, whether or not President Xi directs us where we should go, we’re going to stand by our friends, our allies, and our allies. And clearly Taiwan is one of them. And so being provocateurs — provocative is not us. This is the Beijing government. And we won’t let that happen.
Margaret Brennan: But in terms of this policy for decades, it’s been one of strategic ambiguity, America sells arms to Taiwan, but doesn’t promise to actually defend it. do you need to change it? Does Congress need to prepare for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan?
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS: Look, what we’ve done, and I think we’ve shown what we’ve got to give and we’ve given Taiwan defensive weapons in that policy. Ultimately, this decision must be made by those at the bottom, not China, not Beijing, and not Xi, continuing their provocative actions. It is his provocative actions that are trying–
Margaret Brennan: Right.
REPRESENTATIVE MEEKS:- Change the status quo. At this point we need to maintain the status quo, and this is the best way to de-escalate tensions, not provocations fueled by Beijing.
Margaret Brennan: Congressman Meeks, thank you for your time this morning. We will be back soon.