China could invade Taiwan within the next six years, US Navy Admiral Philip Davidson said on Tuesday, raising hackles in Beijing, which yesterday accused the top US commander of attempting to “hype up” the threat of an invasion to inflate Washington’s defense spending.
“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 the Asia-Pacific region said.
“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,” Davidson told a US Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing.
Former US president Donald Trump embraced warmer ties with Taiwan, as he feuded with China on issues such as trade and national security.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has offered Taiwan cause for optimism for continued support aside from the US Department of State, saying in January that US commitment to the nation is “rock solid.”
Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) was formally invited to Biden’s inauguration, an unprecedented move since 1979.
China has also made expansive territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea and even threatens the US territory of Guam, Davidson said.
“Guam is a target today,” he said, adding 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 US lawmakers to approve the installation on Guam of an Aegis Ashore anti-missile battery, which is 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 defense 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.”
Beijing was swift to bat away the admiral’s comments.
“Some US people continue to use the Taiwan issue to hype up China’s military threat,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) told reporters in Beijing. “But in essence, this is the US searching for a pretext to increase its military spending, expand its forces and interfere in regional affairs.”
BLUE WAVE: The KMT’s Chiang Wan-an defeated the DPP’s Chen Shih-chung and is to become Taipei mayor, while President Tsai Ing-wen stepped down as DPP chairperson after many of the party’s candidates, handpicked by the leadership, performed poorly The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday flipped key mayoral seats in Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung, and won control of 13 out of 22 cities and counties in the nine-in-one local elections. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last night resigned as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson over a poor showing by the party’s candidates, who were handpicked by the DPP leadership rather than chosen through primaries. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) won its first high-profile race with Hsinchu mayoral candidate Ann Kao (高虹安) defeating Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) of the DPP with 45.02 percent of the vote to Shen’s 35.68 percent. Voters were choosing more than
CAUTION: Wearing a mask in crowded places and for people with chronic illnesses or allergies can help prevent COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the CECC said The mask mandate for outdoor settings is to lifted on Thursday, and the weekly cap on international inbound travelers is to be removed on Dec. 10, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its regular news conference yesterday. The center also announced that starting from Friday, children aged five to 11 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster, and that rules for visiting hospital patients are to be partially eased from Dec. 10. While wearing a mask will no longer be mandatory outdoors, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝) reminded the public that it would still be required
ANALYSIS: The local elections showed that the KMT is a competitive player, but needs to work at changing its image regarding China, experts said The nine-in-one local election results would bolster the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but are unlikely to have a major effect on the 2024 presidential election, when cross-strait issues are back in focus, political commentators said. In Saturday’s elections, the KMT won 13 of the 21 cities and counties up for grabs, including four of the country’s six biggest metropolitan areas, where nearly 70 percent of the population lives. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost three of the seven cities and counties it held, although it gained Penghu County. Its poor results prompted President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to announce her resignation as party
PRESS FREEDOM: Britain called reports that a BBC journalist was beaten and detained ‘unacceptable’; China said the reporter did not present his credentials Chinese authorities yesterday eased some COVID-19 rules, but affirmed their severe “zero COVID” strategy after protesters demanded Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) resign in the biggest show of opposition to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in decades. The government made no comment on the protests or the criticism of Xi, but the decision to ease at least some of the restrictions appeared to be aimed at quelling anger. It was not clear how many people were detained since protests began on Friday and spread to cities, including Shanghai and Beijing. The city government of Beijing yesterday announced that it would no longer