Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., issued a stark warning over U.S. "vulnerability" to China following his meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday alongside a delegation of congressional Republicans and Democrats.
Speaking with Fox News Digital following the meeting, Zinke praised the bipartisan message that "peace through strength," a phrase cemented by the late former President Ronald Reagan, was the best way to uphold the U.S. commitment to the defense of Taiwan, but warned that Democrats and Republicans needed to continue working together to overcome the vulnerabilities to China that he said both countries share.
"There was consensus, which was really important to me, that both countries are vulnerable to China," Zinke said of the meeting, specifically naming areas like the manufacturing of certain components, materials and minerals processing where China has the upper hand.
"We have to address that together. So I thought the day was one that was very bipartisan, and important too, as we had a unified message and we discussed ways to honor our commitments, but also increase trade and reduce our vulnerability to China on components that now are critical to both economies," he said.
Zinke said that there were "areas of improvement" when it came to whether Taiwan was getting enough support from the Biden administration, especially with what he called its "ambiguous" message on the defense of the island nation.
He called for the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government to work together on the commitment for more weapons systems to Taiwan, and argued that it "shouldn't be a partisan issue."
"China and the Pacific have both national security interests and economic interests, and freedom interests. So I think it's helpful to stand together," he said.
Zinke wouldn't say whether he thought China would eventually invade Taiwan, but rather stressed the need to "shore up" our allies and support in the region in order for China to honor its commitments to peace.
Despite the issue of threats over Taiwan's sovereignty, Zinke said he saw China as more of a "competitor that has aggressive tones" than an adversary. He also referenced China's contributions to making global environmental problems worse, as well as their "aggressiveness" when it came to Hong Kong and their relationship with Russia.
"China is the world's largest emitter of CO2… 90% of the world's plastics in the ocean come from four rivers in China," Zinke said. "They are the largest illegal fishing operation. I know in our territories, American Samoa and Guam, the fishing industry is just being wrecked by the actions of China."
He said he was emphasizing his time as a member of the House to ending the areas he saw the U.S. as vulnerable to China, including in manufacturing. He called on companies, such as Nike and Patagonia, who "report to be environmentalists and champions of the environment," to bring their operation back to the U.S. from China.
"Come on home. Manufacture here. Come on home. And reduce our vulnerability to China, but also environmentally when they continue to be the world's largest polluter, both air, sea and land," he said.
Zinke added that the"biggest takeaway" from Wednesday's meeting was the unified message from Democrats and Republicans in dealing with China, as well as America's "commitment to honoring our commitment to Taiwan."