Washington: China is not likely to attempt to take over Taiwan militarily within the next “one to two years,” a US military top officer said, adding that it would be “extraordinarily complicated and costly” to seize an island as big as Taiwan and with its level of defense capability.
During a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I don’t see it happening right out of the blue, there’s no reason for it,”
According to Kyodo News, his remarks are in sharp contrast with earlier warnings issued by top US admirals potrating the threat as imminent.
Former Indo-Pacific Command chief Admiral Philip Davidson said in March that China could try to invade Taiwan “in the next six years.”
His successor Admiral John Aquilino also warned that “this problem is much closer to us than most think” without specifying by when he expected the Chinese military to become capable of invading the island.
At the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives, Milley said Wednesday that Davidson and Aquilino indicated in their comments that China is accelerating its military capability toward being ready to invade and seize Taiwan around 2027, six years from now, and that he does not “dismiss that at all.”
“My assessment is an operational assessment. Do they have the intent to attack or seize in the near term, defined as the next year or two? My assessment and based on what I’ve seen right now is ‘No’,” Milley said, while adding that the analysis “can always change.”
This comes as China has ramped up political and military pressure on Taiwan, which it considers as a breakaway province.
In an interview to CNN, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has said China’s escalating military intimidation of Taiwan shows the self-governed island “needs to prepare” for a possible military conflict.
In recent months, Taiwan has reported several incurison in its air defence indentification zone by Chinese warplanes.
As the Chinese threat has escalated, the US has also lent its support to the self-ruled island.
Recently, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also said the Senate committee it is clear that annexing Taiwan is China’s “goal” and that the United States remains committed to helping Taiwan defend itself such as through arms sales.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
The issue is seen as a potential military flashpoint that could draw the United States into conflict with China.