Chinese threat to Taiwan 'critical' from now to 2030: U.S. official

05/11/2022 03:30 PM
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A Chinese WZ-10 Attack helicopter. An incursion of Taiwan
A Chinese WZ-10 Attack helicopter. An incursion of Taiwan's ADIZ by a same type of the aircraft was recorded Tuesday. Photo: Ministry of National Defense

Washington, May 10 (CNA) The threat posed by China to Taiwan between now and 2030 is "critical," Avril Haines, the United States director of national intelligence, said Tuesday while testifying on worldwide threats at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I think it's fair to say that it's critical, or acute," Haines said, when she was asked by Senator Josh Hawley if she viewed the threat facing Taiwan to be acute between now and 2030.

"It's our view that they [China] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention," Haines said, without elaborating.

She also believed that Beijing was closely watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine that started more than two months ago, but said it was unclear what lessons China might have learned since then.

Whatever those lessons may be could affect China's plan toward Taiwan, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine had not accelerated Beijing's plan vis-a-vis Taiwan, Haines said, citing intelligence assessments.

Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, echoed Haines' views, saying he was "not seeing anything that would tell me that they're [China] thinking about trying to take advantage of this time."

"We're not really sure what lessons Xi Jinping is taking away from this conflict right now. We would hope that they would be the right ones," Berrier said.

He later added that he hoped the Chinese leader would come to realize that an invasion in the Taiwan Strait would be difficult, dangerous and highly risky.

Both Berrier and Haines agreed that China would rather pursue its unification goal through peaceful means than resorting to force, but argued that Taiwan still needed to be prepared to defend itself militarily.

Berrier said the U.S. should engage with Taiwan's military and leadership "to help them understand what this conflict has been about, what lessons they can learn," referring to Ukraine's resistance against Russian attacks.

The U.S. should also help Taiwan grasp "where they should be focusing their dollars on defense and their training," Berrier said.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Teng Pei-ju)

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