China is “working hard” to be able to conquer a nation on Australia’s doorstep in a few years, senior US intelligence officials have warned.
Taiwan is facing an “acute” threat from China within the next eight years as Beijing strengthens its military to allow the nation to take control, even if the US intervenes.
This is according to several senior US intelligence officials, who have raised the alarm on the renewed risk posed by China in the region after years of mounting tensions.
During a disturbing testimony in the Senate on Tuesday, US National Intelligence Director Avril Haines said Taiwan has now faced an “acute” threat from China between the present day and 2030.
And he said that while authorities would prefer to take Taiwan without force, China was actively building its military to allow it to use that option if needed.
“We believe they are working hard to effectively put themselves in a position where their military is able to take Taiwan for our intervention,” Haines told the committee, adding that Beijing “would prefer not to have to use military force to take Taiwan.” “They prefer to use other means,” he said.
Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also tested, backing Haines’ claims.
“I think the PRC (People’s Republic of China) would rather not do it by force. I think they would rather do it peacefully over time, “Lieutenant General Berrier said, adding that Taiwan would not have the military strength to react effectively if China moved.
“They have a largely conscript strength. I don’t think that’s where it’s supposed to be, “she said.
And in another worrying sign, they both talked about how China could observe – and learn from – the invasion of Ukraine and how the world has reacted to the ongoing crisis.
In a speech on Monday, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the fact that US and European troops have so far avoided directly intervening in Ukraine has likely strengthened China’s resolve to take Taiwan back.
“Neither the United States nor the Europeans have lifted a military finger to directly assist Ukraine in the war against Russia by providing troops on the ground,” Rudd said. “When it comes to your future, you will also be alone.”
His comments come in the wake of a claim by CIA Director William Burns that Russia’s blocked progress in Ukraine would not undermine Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitions in Taiwan.
“I don’t think for a minute that (Russia’s failure) has eroded Xi’s determination to take control of Taiwan,” he said.
Taiwan versus China
There have been tensions between China and Taiwan since 1945, when the administration of Taiwan was transferred to the Republic of China from the Empire of Japan at the end of World War II.
Taiwan never surrendered in 1949 following the Chinese Civil War and Taiwan has since fought for independence as China aggressively pursued reunification, with President Xi Jinping threatening the use of force to achieve that goal. .
The United States, like most of the world, does not formally recognize Taiwan’s independence, but has emerged as one of its strongest supporters, supplying billions of dollars worth of weapons to the island nation.
The role of Australia
In 2021 a bomb declassified White House document revealed a US plan to potentially take on China if it attacked Taiwan, sparking fears that Australia would be caught in the middle as a close US ally that has been alongside the superpower in every previous major military battle.
The 10-page report of the US strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific, approved by former President Donald Trump, was released publicly well before the original 2043 deadline.
“The original document was declassified and released to communicate America’s enduring commitment to this vital region to the American people and our allies and partners,” National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said in his letter. presentation.
“The United States has a long history of fighting repressive regimes on behalf of those who value freedom and openness. As the largest economy in the world, with the strongest military and a vibrant democracy, it is up to the United States to lead from the front. “
Originally published as Experts warn of the “acute” military threat from China within years