A conflict with the United States would be a “really bad choice” for Beijing, says the most senior American
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said the Pentagon would support the Taiwanese military with weapons and training, warning of a Chinese attack on the island while accusing Beijing of seeking “world military superiority”.
Speaking during a an event held Wednesday by the Economic Club of New York, the American general underlined that Washington would continue to strengthen security cooperation with Taipei, despite strong objections from Beijing, which considers the island to be part of the sovereign territory of China.
“The United States made a commitment through the Taiwan Relations Act, and President [Joe] Biden has said several times recently that the United States will continue to support Taiwan,” Milley said, referring to US legislation outlining the relationship with Taipei. “We will support them militarily” and “try to train and equip them”.
Milley went on to say that although there is no indication that Beijing will attack the island in the immediate future, Chinese President Xi Jinping is now “evaluate the situation and recalculate what they could do”, noting that an assault across the Taiwan Strait would be “really difficult.”
“It’s really tough. And I think they’re starting to realize that,” he continued, adding that the preparations for an attack and the carrying out of an attack are “two different things”.
Last year, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen claimed US military personnel were already training troops on the island, but declined to specify how many Americans were deployed, saying only that it was “not as much as people thought.” Additionally, US Special Forces Chief Christopher Maier also suggested that the Pentagon send US advisers to instruct Taiwanese soldiers on how to repel a “amphibious landing” in May 2021. It is not known if this proposal was ever accepted.
The US general underscored a key talking point repeated repeatedly by officials in Washington, insisting that Beijing is the United States’ main competitor and security problem. He said the country was looking “regional” – and eventually “overall” – military “superiority,” arguing that he would like to reach the latter before the year 2050.
“We are ok with the competition – no problem”, he said. “But if China wants a conflict, then that would be a very bad choice for China.”
US officials are increasingly treating the island as a sovereign nation in defiance of the “One China” policy, which Washington formally recognizes. US President Joe Biden even repeatedly promised that the US military would help repel a Chinese invasion, but White House aides backtracked on those statements time after time.
During his report to the Chinese Communist Party Congress last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the risk of armed conflict over Taiwan. He reiterated that Beijing’s main goal was peaceful reunification, but warned that Beijing reserved the right to use military force to prevent possible attempts by the Taiwanese administration to declare independence. Last week, he ordered the country’s military to ensure it is ready to respond to security threats stemming from a new era of global turmoil.
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