The head of the US Navy has issued an ominous warning, saying the US military must be ready for China to move on Taiwan next year.
Admiral Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, offered a pessimistic outlook, suggesting China could soon deploy military force to achieve its stated plan to reabsorb the democratic island and bring it under the auspices of Beijing.
Speaking to the Atlantic Council earlier this week, he said the US must be prepared to potentially defend Taiwan much sooner than most predictions forecast. While China's leader Xi Jinping has consistently said his government reserves the right to use force to reclaim Taiwan, many observers don't believe that is likely in the next few years.
"It is not just what President Xi says, but it is how the Chinese behave and what they do," he said.
"What we've seen in the last 20 years, they have delivered on every promise they have made earlier than they said they were going to deliver on it."
Admiral Gilday suggested China could move to tighten its grip on the county as early as the coming months.
"When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window," he said.
"I don’t mean at all to be alarmist . . . it’s just that we can’t wish that away."
His comments come after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China was increasingly impatient and unhappy with the status quo and "determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline".
"There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years," he acknowledged in an event at Stanford University.
Taiwan official says Xi would be a 'sinner' of all Chinese if he attacks
Chinese President Xi Jinping would become a "sinner" of all Chinese people if he attacked Taiwan and would not win a war as he would face international sanctions and diplomatic isolation, Taiwan's top security official said on Thursday.
China has ramped up military and political pressure against democratically governed Taiwan over the past two years as it seeks to assert its sovereignty claims, which the government in Taipei strongly rejects.
Opening a twice-a-decade congress of China's ruling Communist Party on Sunday, Xi said it was up to the Chinese people to resolve the Taiwan issue and that China would never renounce the right to use force but still strive for a peaceful resolution.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of parliament, Chen Ming-tong, head of Taiwan's National Security Bureau said Xi would face disaster if he followed through on his threats of ever attacking Taiwan.
"There is no possibility of winning in using force to attack Taiwan," Chen said.
China would face international sanctions and diplomatic isolation for doing so, he added.
"Xi would forfeit the so-called great rejuvenation of the Chinese people, and become a sinner of the Chinese people," Chen said, using a term that refers to those who are ethnically Chinese rather than of Chinese nationality.
Taiwan's government says only the island's 23 million people can decide their future, and that as Taiwan has never been ruled by the People's Republic of China its sovereignty claims are void.
"It's very clear that the two sides should respect each other and develop separately, which is the way that will bring happiness to the people," Chen said.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly offered to resume talks with China based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, but Beijing has rebuffed those advances insisting she must first acknowledge that Taiwan is part of China.
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