Concerns are growing in Washington over the possibility that China could try to invade Taiwan in the next few years.
Top U.S. military officers have warned in recent months that Beijing might try to make the explosive move this decade, and recent saber rattling, including a Chinese military amphibious landing exercise near the island, is further raising the alarm.
Still, the Pentagon’s top general cautioned Thursday that China would find an invasion of Taiwan to be “an extraordinarily complex and difficult operation.”
“If you’re talking about a military invasion of Taiwan — crossing the straits, the Taiwan Straits, with a sizable military force to seize an island the size of Taiwan against the military that they have and with the population that they have — that’s an extraordinarily complex and difficult operation, even if against an unopposed force,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“That’s a very hard thing to do,” he added.
Under a decades-old policy toward Taiwan, the United States maintains “strategic ambiguity” — Washington does not explicitly say it would come to the island’s defense in a conflict with China.
The policy is designed to avoid provoking Beijing while also not emboldening Taiwan into formally declaring independence, a move that could lead to a Chinese invasion.
But U.S. ties with Taipei have deepened in recent years amid intensifying competition between the world’s two biggest economies. For example, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told House lawmakers this week that the Biden administration is pushing forward on trade talks with Taiwan.
A bipartisan group of senators, traveling in a U.S. military transport plane, also visited Taiwan during last week’s congressional recess to “underscore U.S. support” for the island, announce a donation of COVID-19 vaccines, and convey a message that “there is much we can do together to advance our shared prosperity, security and values,” according to a news release from Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Ill.) office.
The “bipartisan Senate delegation visit to Taiwan is yet another demonstration of that continued commitment to our friends and partners in this critical area of the world, as well as a reminder of how the United States’ presence over the past several decades has been instrumental in the development of security, prosperity and democracy throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who joined Duckworth and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in the delegation, said in a statement.
After the visit, the Chinese military announced it had conducted an amphibious landing exercise in waters near Taiwan. Amphibious landing would be an essential step for China to invade and seize an island such as Taiwan.
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