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China will be ready to seize Taiwan in three years, US admiral claims

Beijing has said it has no intention of using force, unless provoked by the leaders of the self-administered island

The Chinese military is on track to meet a supposed 2027 deadline for a ground operation in Taiwan, a senior US Navy official has told Congress.

Beijing considers the self-governed island to be part of China. Its stated policy is to seek peaceful reunification, but has warned that it will resort to military action if the US-backed administration of Taiwan attempts to declare formal independence.

On Wednesday, Admiral John Aquilino, who leads the US Indo-Pacific Command, spoke at a session of the US House Armed Services Committee about the readiness of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) seize Taiwan. In prepared remarks, he labeled China an “adversarial regime” and “the only country that has the capability, capacity, and intent to upend” the status quo in the Pacific.

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“All indications point to the PLA meeting President Xi Jinping’s directive to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027. Furthermore, the PLA’s actions indicate their ability to meet Xi’s preferred timeline to unify Taiwan with mainland China by force if directed,” Aquilino said.

The purported directive has been alluded to by senior US officials, including CIA Director William Burns, who mentioned it on several occasions in 2023. American military commanders have suggested for years that 2027 may be the time of a decisive conflict for Taiwan, with a 2035 deadline discussed as well. Last April, at another committee hearing, Aquilino said he believed “everybody is guessing” regarding the issue.

Xi reportedly raised the American claims during a meeting with US President Joe Biden in San Francisco last November. The Chinese leader “denied any near-term plans to use force” against Taiwan, mentioned the two purported deadlines, and rejected these statements with “a hint of irritation” in his voice, a senior White House official said, describing the talks to Voice of America on condition of anonymity.


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When asked about the latest assessment on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian dismissed the attempts by “some people in the US” to “hype up the China-threat narrative to escalate tensions across the strait and instigate confrontation.” The island’s status is a domestic Chinese issue, he said.

 

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