By: Alex Willemyns
Beijing could invade Taiwan as early as this year or next, the chief of U.S. naval operations said at a forum in Washington on Wednesday. The comments came days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Beijing was pursuing reunification with the island “on a much faster timeline.”
Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, told an Atlantic Council event that his assessment was based not just on speeches by Chinese President Xi Jinping but “how the Chinese behave and what they do.”
“What we’ve seen over the past 20 years is that they have delivered on every promise they’ve made earlier than they said they were going to deliver on it,” Gilday said. “When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window; I can’t rule it out.”
Last year, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief, Adm. Phil Davidson, told Congress that China was pursuing the military ability to invade Taiwan by 2027.
“I don’t mean at all to be alarmist by saying that,” Gilday said of his more imminent timeline, “it’s just that we can’t wish that away.”
Gilday is not the only American official to warn of a more immediate invasion of the democratically governed island than previously expected. Blinken on Monday said he believed there had been “” by Beijing, which he said was no longer prepared to accept Taiwan’s self-government.
“Instead of sticking with the status quo that was established in a positive way, a fundamental decision [was made] that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline,” Blinken said.
For their part, Chinese officials have done little to quell concerns of an invasion of Taiwan, even as they have provided little indication of a possible timeline.
On Saturday, Xi used a speech at the 20th Communist Party National Congress to vow Beijing would “never promise to renounce the use of force” to reunify with Taiwan, threatening to use “all measures necessary” to achieve it, but gave no projected timeframe. (KB/RFA)