Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday issued an alert that China could invade Taiwan within the next year, sooner than U.S. officials previously expected.
Gilday referenced Xi Jinping’s warning that an invasion could be coming, and said that China typically follows through on its threats sooner than expected. “It’s how the Chinese behave and what they do,” Gilday said.
“The wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi said during an opening address at the party congress. “Complete reunification of our country must be realized.”
“When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window,” Gilday said at the Atlantic Council’s Forward Defense’s Commander’s Series on Wednesday. “I can’t rule that out. I don’t mean at all to be alarmist by saying that, it’s just that we can’t wish that away.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said in a conversation last week that China is “pursu[ing] unification on a much faster timeline” than in recent years.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) trip to Taiwan last month was seen as a move against China, and led to 21 Chinese planes entering Taiwan’s air defense zone and other provocations.
Gilday said that he has been “making sure the ships we are fielding today are as ready as they can be” and encouraged Congress to follow through on a $27.5 billion budget to build new ships.
China already considers Taiwan a part of its domain under a “one China” policy, but Taiwan has had an independent government from China since 1949.
The United States’ official position recognizes the status quo and opposes any change to it in either direction.
Taiwan is important to the world economy because it produces a large percentage of the world’s computer chips that are used in many electronics like cars, smartphones, and computers.
President Joe Biden said in a 60 Minutes interview last month that the U.S. would support Taiwan militarily if China attacked it, but others in his administration walked back the comments after he made them and said that military support would not necessarily be given.
Much like Russia, it does not seem like China is deterred by the U.S. as much as it had been in the past. An attack on Taiwan from China would put the U.S. in an impossible situation and deteriorate economic and supply chain conditions further than they already have been, forcing some kind of response, if not a military one.