Top military officer says U.S. capable of defending Taiwan

06/12/2021 12:43 PM
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Mark Milley, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (screenshot of Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing video)
Mark Milley, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (screenshot of Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing video)

Washington, June 11 (CNA) Mark Milley, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed earlier this week during a congressional hearing that the country is capable of defending Taiwan in the event of a People's Liberation Army invasion from China.

Asked by Republican Senator Josh Hawley whether the U.S. could militarily block an invasion of Taiwan from China if the island could not defend itself on its own, Milley gave a positive answer.

"I can assure you that we have the capabilities if there were political decisions made in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act," Milley said on June 10 during the Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on the Pentagon's defense authorization request for the forthcoming fiscal year.

The act was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. It also requires the U.S. "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character," but does not specify the U.S. will fight to defend Taiwan.

In addition to giving an assurance on U.S. military capability if it were to decide to defend Taiwan, Milley also said it would not be easy for China to take Taiwan by force.

"If you're talking about a military invasion in Taiwan, crossing the straits, the Taiwan Strait, with a sizable military force to seize an island the size of Taiwan against the military that they have, and the population that they have, that's an extraordinarily complex and difficult operation if against an unopposed force, that's a very hard thing to do," he said.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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