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China could use force to coerce Taiwan into negotiations in 2023: NSB

10/20/2022 07:40 PM
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Soldiers stationed in Penghu County take part in a monthly live-fire drill on Wednesday. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2022
Soldiers stationed in Penghu County take part in a monthly live-fire drill on Wednesday. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2022

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) China could use force to coerce Taiwan's government into accepting unfavorable terms set out by the Chinese government in 2023, National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said Thursday.

Chen made the remarks during a legislative hearing when he was asked by Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lee Guei-min (李貴敏) to comment on recent remarks by U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday that China could invade Taiwan as early as this year or 2023.

However, Chen sidestepped the question as to the likelihood of a 2023 invasion, saying only that the NSB considered multiple scenarios for a Chinese attack. He identified the most likely scenario for 2023 as Beijing attempting to force Taipei into negotiations, without specifying what the negotiations could involve.

This could be carried out through a show of military force -- for example by blockading Taiwan, which would be tantamount to "war," Chen said.

The nation's security apparatus has drafted plans to respond to such a scenario, he added.

At an event on Oct. 16 organized by the U.S.-based think tank Atlantic Council, Gilday said that if the 2027 timetable purportedly set by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to be militarily ready to undertake a successful invasion of Taiwan is true, it could mean the PLA would invade Taiwan this year or 2023, according to a report published Wednesday by Breaking Defense.

According to the report, Gilday said that based on events over the past two decades, China would likely act on its goal earlier than it has previously indicated.

"So when we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window," the news outlet quoted Gilday as saying. "I can't rule that out. I don't mean at all to be alarmist by saying that. It's just that we can't wish that away."

The 2027 timeline was first put forward in congressional testimony by then-U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander Admiral Phil Davidson and INDOPACOM commander Admiral John Aquilino in March 2021.

In September of this year, CNN reported that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Deputy Director David Cohen said Xi had ordered the PLA to develop the necessary capability to take control of Taiwan by force by 2027.

KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) asked Chen whether the NSB agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's remarks on Monday that China was determined to annex Taiwan "on a much faster timeline."

Chen said several timelines have been suggested for a potential Chinese invasion -- 2027, 2025 and most recently 2023.

Due to the ever-changing nature of warfare, it is difficult to predict exactly when a Chinese invasion could take place, Chen said.

The NSB takes note of all suggested timetables and is always on the lookout for any signs of a possible invasion, he added.

Chen was asked by reporters to comment on Xi's remarks during his speech at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party on Oct. 16 that China would not agree to give up on the use of force against "pro-Taiwan independence separatists and external forces and would retain the option to take any measures necessary."

Xi's remarks were a "cliche" and there is no scenario in which China comes out on top in a military attack on Taiwan, considering the economic and diplomatic sanctions it would face as a result of its actions, he said.

If Xi mounted an attack on Taiwan, he would be remembered not for realizing the "great Chinese rejuvenation," but rather as a sinner, Chen added.

(By Sean Lin and Novia Huang)


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