China could potentially “invade” Taiwan in the next 6 years, Washington’s top military officer in Asia-Pacific, Admiral Philip Davidson claimed.
Officially, Taiwan is still a part of China, so it is questionable how a country can invade its own territory, but regardless, the claims stand.
Democratic and self-ruled Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by China, Davidson claims.
“I worry that they’re [China] accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order… by 2050,” he said.
“Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years,” he told a US Senate armed services committee hearing.
As such, he is not specifically worried about Taiwan, but that the United States’ position as global hegemon could be undermined in the next 30 years.
Davidson said the expansion of China’s military assets in the region risked creating an “unfavourable” situation for the US, reducing the level of deterrence.
“We are accumulating risk that may embolden China to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces may be able to deliver an effective response,” he said.
“I cannot for the life of me understand some of the capabilities that they’re putting in the field, unless … it is an aggressive posture.”
Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but remains the island’s most important unofficial ally and military backer.
Since then, it has supported Taiwan in various degrees. For decades the US has maintained a deterrence policy of strategic ambiguity, refusing to say if it would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily in the event of an invasion.
In his appearance at the Senate hearing, Davidson suggested that should be reassessed.
US President Joe Biden and his administration haven’t signaled that anything would change, but it plans to heavily oppose China’s growth.
China also has made expansive territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea and even threatens the American island of Guam, Davidson said.
“Guam is a target today,” he warned, recalling that the Chinese military released a video simulating an attack on an island base strongly resembling US facilities in Diego Garcia and Guam.
He called on lawmakers to approve the installation on Guam of an Aegis Ashore anti-missile battery, capable of intercepting the most powerful Chinese missiles in flight.
Guam “needs to be defended and it needs to be prepared for the threats that will come in the future,” Davidson said.
The Aegis Ashore could easily be repurposed to launch nuclear-capable Tomahawk missiles.
In addition to other Aegis missile defence systems destined for Australia and Japan, Davidson called on lawmakers to budget for more long-range weaponry “to let China know that the costs of what they seek to do are too high.”
“A wider base of long-range precision fires, which are enabled by all our terrestrial forces – not just sea and air but by land forces as well – is critically important to stabilise what is becoming a more unstable environment in the western Pacific,” Davidson said.
While the Pentagon has said it was in favour of placing such missiles in the region, allies in Asia have so far appeared to be opposed to the idea of hosting them. Understandably so.
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