Top US intelligence officials warned Tuesday that China is “working hard” to carry out a military takeover of Taiwan — and Beijing is closely watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to gauge the level of America’s potential opposition.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee that the threat to Taiwan is “acute.”
“It’s our view that they [the Chinese] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention,” Haines told the panel.
Haines and Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier added that the US still doesn’t know what the Chinese may have gleaned from President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, in which Russian forces have been largely stymied by fierce resistance from the Kyiv government.
But Berrier said China was learning “some very interesting lessons” from the Ukraine war, including the need for effective military leadership, small unit tactics and training with appropriate weapons systems — as well as the necessity of a professional noncommissioned officer corps, which Russia lacks.
Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory and has threatened to gain control of the island nation by force if necessary.
Haines said she believes the war in Ukraine, which began when Russia invaded on Feb. 24, will not likely accelerate China’s plans for Taiwan, and Berrier said China would rather not deploy its military.
“I believe the PRC [People’s Republic of China] would rather not do it [take over Taiwan] by force. I think they would rather do this peacefully over time,” he said.
Haines said China had been “surprised” at how quickly the US and Europe united to counter the invasion by enacting sanctions against Russia, “something they obviously will be looking at in context of Taiwan.”
She added that the course of events in Ukraine “may give them less confidence, in some respects, over what is likely to happen” during a potential invasion of Taiwan.
The US acknowledges China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan under the “one China” policy but has supported Taipei’s independence by providing arms for its defense.
At the same time, China has increased its military presence in the region and has conducted military exercises near Taiwan, most recently last weekend, when Taiwan had to scramble planes to counter 18 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defense zone.
Beijing said the exercises, involving naval and air force personnel, were intended to “further test and improve the joint combat capability of multiple services and arms.”
With Post wires