Beijing would only opt for war if “peaceful unification” is no longer an option, the head of the US intelligence community said on Thursday at a hearing of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“It is not our assessment that China wants to go to war,” US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at the hearing when asked about the consequences for the global and Chinese economy if war were to break out in the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing would prefer to achieve unification through peaceful means rather than by using force, Haines said, adding that the challenge is that China is “utterly committed to unification” and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) “has made it quite clear that something has to happen.”
If “they believe peaceful unification is not an option, then [there is] the potential for actually trying to achieve it militarily,” Haines said.
“Studies show that it would actually have an absolutely enormous implications for the global financial economy if there were disruptions to Taiwan semiconductor production,” she added.
There is no evidence that Xi has made a decision to invade Taiwan, CIA Director William Burns said, adding that he nevertheless would not underestimate Xi’s ambitions.
“I do think that nobody has watched more intently [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s experience in Ukraine than Xi Jinping has,” Burns said.
“I think he’s been sobered to some extent, at least it’s our analysis, by the extent to which the West was able to maintain solidarity and absorb some short-term economic costs in the interest of imposing even greater long-term economic costs on Russia,” he said.
“That’s something that President Xi has to weigh as he comes out of zero-COVID, tries to restore Chinese economic growth, tries to engage with the rest of the global economy,” Burns said.
The economic factor of a potential war would “weigh significantly in the calculus of the Chinese leadership,” he said.
As in a hearing before the US Senate on Wednesday, Thursday’s hearing highlighted just how grave the US considers the threat posed by China.
However, the testimony from Burns and Haines offered a counterpoint to US lawmakers — and some military officials — that China is primed to invade Taiwan, possibly as early as 2027.
Asked whether the US should drop its longstanding position of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan, Haines cited US President Joe Biden’s repeated statements that the US would defend against a Chinese attack.
Biden’s aides have repeatedly said that his comments do not reflect a change in the US position, but “I think it is clear to the Chinese what our position is, based on the president’s comments,” Haines told lawmakers.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
Measures have been taken to minimize damage from Chinese espionage, the Ministry of National Defense said on Monday, in response to an alleged plan to deliver a Chinook helicopter to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The Chinese-language CTWANT magazine earlier in the day reported that a lieutenant colonel surnamed Hsieh (謝) was approached by Chinese officers with an offer to evacuate his family to Thailand in the event of a cross-strait conflict. In exchange, Hsieh was asked to fly a CH-47F Chinook helicopter to a Chinese aircraft carrier in the Taiwan Strait, the magazine said. Hsieh initially declined, but accepted after he was
SAFETY IN REGULATION: The proposal states that Chiayi should assess whether it is viable to establish such a district and draft rules to protect clients and sex workers The Chiayi City Council passed a motion yesterday to assess the viability of establishing a regulated red-light district. The council yesterday held its last session of the year, at which its fiscal 2024 budget was approved, along with 61 other proposals. The proposal to assess the viability of establishing a red-light district was put forward by independent Chiayi City Councilor Molly Yen (顏色不分藍綠支持性專區顏色田慎節). The proposal cited 2011 amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulate that city and county governments can pass autonomous regulations on the sex trade to manage the industry and guarantee industry workers’ rights. A ban on the
STABILITY AND CHANGE: Flagging in recent polls, Ko this week pledged to maintain President Tsai’s foreign policy, with an emphasis on improving China relations Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday reiterated that he is “deep-green at heart” in response to accusations that he is pivoting his campaign to align closer with the ideology of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the face of flagging polls. Ko made the remark at an agricultural policy conference in Taipei, repeating his comments from an interview with CTS News a day earlier. Ko told the CTS host that he would continue to pursue President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) national defense and foreign policy in general, but with an emphasis on establishing a rapport with
CHINA illness surge: Of 88 travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau with respiratory symptoms who were encouraged to get tested upon arrival, 70.6% had the flu Two hundred and sixty people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 31 deaths related to the virus were reported last week — the highest numbers in four weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that cases are expected to peak next month. CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said that of the 260 people hospitalized last week with moderate to severe COVID-19, 98 percent had not received the Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted COVID-19 vaccine. Among the people hospitalized this year, 78 percent were aged 65 or older, while most of the those who were hospitalized or died have or had