An attack on Taiwan by the Chinese military would be a political and strategic mistake, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said on Wednesday.
“Most of Taiwan is a mountainous island. So it’s a very, very difficult military objective, a very difficult military operation to execute,” Milley told a joint Pentagon news briefing with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin following a meeting on the latest developments in Ukraine.
The top US general had been asked if he was concerned that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) might make an ill-advised or ill-informed attempt to take Taiwan by force now that he has consolidated his power over the Chinese Communist Party.
Milley said he believed Xi would make decisions based on what he thinks is in China’s national interest.
“I think he evaluates things on cost, benefit and risk, and I think that he would conclude that an attack on Taiwan in the near future would be an excessive amount of risk, and it would end in a strategic debacle for the Chinese military,” he said.
That would stall China’s push toward becoming the world’s top economic and military power, Milley said.
Milley said the US was watching the situation closely and that “one of the keys now is to make sure that Taiwan can defend itself, and there are a lot of lessons learned coming out of the Ukrainian war.”
He said that China’s military had not seen combat since fighting the Vietnamese in 1979, adding that it would be a dangerous game to cross the Taiwan Strait and invade Taiwan proper.
Milley said he believed it could be some time before China would be capable of a military operation to take Taiwan.
“I think it would be unwise. It would be a political mistake, a geopolitical mistake, a strategic mistake similar to what the strategic mistake is that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has made in Ukraine,” Milley added.
Milley did not say any attack on Taiwan was imminent, but he said he believes that Xi, who just won a historic third term as the country’s leader and has declared uniting Taiwan with China a high priority, is a “rational actor.”
He said that while the Chinese People’s Liberation Army could easily open an assault on Taiwan with bombs and missiles, physically capturing the mountainous, heavily populated island would be a “very difficult military task.”
Milley’s comments echoed his past remarks that while China might want to be ready for an invasion by 2027, its military is not ready yet.
He said the US military remains the most lethal fighting force in the world and would stay that way “one, five years from now, 10 years from now and 50 years from now,” despite China’s ambitions.
In related news, tensions over Taiwan are expected to be on the agenda when US Vice President Kamala Harris meets Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr next week, Manila’s ambassador to Washington said yesterday.
“I’m sure they will touch on the Taiwan situation,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez told Reuters by telephone, adding that the Philippines wants to play a role in peaceful co-existence between the US and China.
“What happens in Taiwan, it will affect the entire ASEAN region. If there is a conflict that happens in Taiwan, nobody is going to be spared,” Romualdez said. “The Philippines is part of this whole equation.”
Additional reporting by AFP, Bloomberg and Reuters
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest
FIRST STEP: Business groups in Taiwan welcomed the deal, which does not include tariff reductions at this stage, as they called for the elimination of double taxation Taiwan and the US yesterday signed an initial agreement under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade. The agreement was signed yesterday morning by Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Managing Director Ingrid Larson in Washington, the Office of Trade Negotiations in Taipei said. The ceremony was witnessed by Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) and Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. Taiwan and the US started talks under the initiative in August last year, after Taipei was left out of the Washington-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. “The deal that will be signed tonight is not only very historic,
Beijing yesterday blamed US “provocation” for an incident last week in which a Chinese plane crossed in front of a US surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea. The incident came at a time of frayed ties between Washington and Beijing over issues including Taiwan and the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US this year. “The United States’ long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China’s national sovereignty and security,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) said when asked about the latest incident. “This
‘GLOBAL NETWORK’: The only way to deter a Chinese invasion is for the international community to unite in its resolve, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Lee said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Lee (李淳) yesterday urged democratic nations around the world to not let Beijing dictate the definition of their “one China” policies, saying that they should increase cooperation with Taiwan to build a resilient democratic network. Lee made the remarks during his speech, titled “Ukraine and Taiwan: Why Global Unity Matters,” at the annual Bratislava Forum in Slovakia. “People in Taiwan have been paying close attention to the situation in Ukraine and admire Ukrainians for defending their homeland. They are [also] fighting for Taiwan and democratic countries around the world,” Lee told forum participants. “The international