A memorandum from US Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan, leaked on social media on Friday, warns of a US military conflict with China over Taiwan as soon as 2025. His is not the first such warning. Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) told lawmakers in June 2021 that China might attempt an invasion in 2025, and US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday in October last year said that an invasion might occur as early as next year.
Minihan’s comments, which Agence France-Presse said were confirmed by the Pentagon, present an opening for Taipei to press Washington to step up its defense measures. While nobody wants war, and Minihan said the main goal would be to deter a conflict, the comments from such a high-ranking US military official show that the Pentagon is taking the threat of war in the Taiwan Strait seriously, and that it is preparing for possible US involvement in such a conflict.
On Wednesday, the Taipei Times reported that the US government is appropriating funding to facilitate Taiwan’s participation in its International Military Education & Training (IMET) program. Taiwan’s participation in the program, which aims to bolster regional defense capabilities by providing training and education to military personnel around the world, is mentioned in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023.
“IMET has been proven to be an effective means to strengthen the military and international alliances, which are crucial for the US to reach its national security goals,” the American Institute in Taiwan told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times).
If there truly is concern among high-ranking US military personnel about a Chinese attack on Taiwan in the next few years, then Taipei and Washington must expedite such initiatives, as well as Taiwan’s procurement of US weapons.
In October last year, the Nikkei Shimbun reported that the US government was considering producing weapons with Taiwan. Such a move would help facilitate weapons delivery and reduce funding concerns. The Nikkei report said that the plan could be implemented through a technology transfer that would allow some US arms to be manufactured in Taiwan. That is not improbable, given that a previous technology transfer in 2020 allowed Taiwan to maintain its F-16 jets domestically.
The US should seek to help Taiwan improve its military self-reliance — something President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been touting since she took office — or station a contingent of US troops in the nation. If a deployment is not possible, US naval vessels could make regular ports of call in Taiwan. US lawmakers in 2017 proposed such visits in a version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. China might object, but it would hardly have grounds to do so, as it has not allowed visits by the US Navy to Chinese ports over the past several years amid growing tensions between the countries.
There is growing bipartisan support for Taiwan in the US Congress, with several official delegations visiting the nation over the past year. Most notably, then-US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi visited in August last year in defiance of warnings from the Chinese government. On Monday last week, Punchbowl News reported that US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning to visit Taiwan in the coming months, despite renewed warnings from Beijing. Last week, a committee led by US Representative Mike Gallagher launched a petition calling for the US to formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.
Given the US’ support for Taiwan, as well as continued warnings among US military officials and think tanks about an impending Chinese invasion, the Tsai administration should continue to press Washington to ensure Taiwan’s security.
Let’s begin with the bottom line. The sad truth of the matter is that Beijing has trampled on its solemn pledge to grant Hong Kong a great deal of autonomy for at least fifty years. In so doing, the PRC ignored a promise Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) made to both Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the wider world back in the early 1980s. This was at a time when Beijing, under Deng and his successors, appeared to be seeking an equitable accommodation with the West. I remain puzzled by China’s recent policy shift. Was it because Hong Kong was perceived
French police have confirmed that China’s overseas “police service stations” were behind cyberattacks against a Taiwanese Mandarin Learning Center in the European nation. This is another example of Beijing bullying Taiwanese organizations, as well as a show of contempt for other countries’ sovereignty and for international laws and norms. L’Encrier Chinois, a Chinese-language school that opened in 2005 in Paris, became the second Taiwanese Mandarin Learning Center in France in 2021. The school was targeted by at least three cyberattacks last year, which were reported to French police, who discovered that the attacks originated from China’s overseas police stations. Overseas
A photograph taken on Tuesday of Taoyuan City Government officials bowing to an East African baboon that was fatally shot the previous day provides an absurd snapshot to a sorry farce that led to an avoidable tragedy. The photograph showed the officials in front of a plastic container draped in a purple cloth on which a bouquet of flowers had been placed. It was a perfect example of a death ritual performed for the benefit of the living, not the dead. The gesture was worthless for any other reason than to distract from personal blame and political guilt. It contrasts with
A Taichung high-school student recently committed suicide after allegedly being bullied and abused by his school’s head of student affairs, military discipline office head, and other disciplinary and security officers. The Humanistic Education Foundation accused seven staff members at the school of picking on the boy after he was found bringing beer and cigarettes on campus in his first year at the school. They allegedly started to conduct body checks and searches of his bag, vilify him in public and pressure him into admitting wrongdoings committed by other students using verbal threats. They allegedly handed him two demerits and nine