China could invade Taiwan in next six years, top US commander warns

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Mar 10, 2021, 09:37 AM(IST)

Will US help Taiwan? Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Taiwan split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949 and exists under the constant threat of invasion by the mainland. Chinese leaders view Taiwan as part of their territory and have vowed to one day take it back.

China is accelerating moves to supersede American military power in Asia, as a result of which it can invade Taiwan within the next six years, a top US commander has warned.

Taiwan split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949 and exists under the constant threat of invasion by the mainland. Chinese leaders view Taiwan as part of their territory and have vowed to one day take it back.

The US continues to remain the island’s most important unofficial ally -- previously, it wass Donald Trump who embraced warmer ties with the island, and now it is new President Joe Biden whose State Department said in January that its commitment to the island was “rock-solid”. Also, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US was formally invited to Biden’s inauguration, an unprecedented move since 1979 -- when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

“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,” Washington’s top military officer in Asia-Pacific, Admiral Philip Davidson, told a US Senate armed services committee hearing on Tuesday.

Also read | US to continue assisting Taiwan's self-defence capabilities, says White House 

“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."

China also has made expansive territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea and even threatens the American island of Guam, underlined Davidson. 

"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. 

In addition to other Aegis missile defence systems destined for Australia and Japan, Davidson called on lawmakers to budget for offensive armaments "to let China know that the costs of what they seek to do are too high."

Davidson said, however, that missile defence was not enough to deter a potential adversary, and countries need to "score some runs to win the match".

(with inputs)

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