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.”
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