Cross-strait peace is U.S. national security interest: top general

06/24/2021 01:18 PM
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Destroyer USS John McCain Transits Taiwan Strait in April. Image from facebook.com/USPacificFleet
Destroyer USS John McCain Transits Taiwan Strait in April. Image from facebook.com/USPacificFleet

Washington, June 23 (CNA) Maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait is of critical importance to the United States, the top U.S. general said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that unification with Taiwan is both a core national security interest to China and a legacy issue for China's leader Xi Jinping (習近平).

"It's also a core national security interest to the United States to ensure that whatever happens with respect to Taiwan happens peacefully and we don't have a general conflict in the region or globally," Milley told lawmakers.

The U.S. supports a peaceful resolution of the issue between Taiwan and China, he added.

Milley said the U.S. is closely monitoring the Chinese People's Liberation Army, which has been building its capability, but added that he does not see any indicators that China will try to seize control of Taiwan by force in the next one or two years.

"The cost to China far exceeds the benefit," Milley said.

His comments followed recent warnings by some American officials and lawmakers of a possible invasion of the island by Beijing, which accuses the U.S. of hyping China's military threat to boost its military budget.

Former U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Philip Davidson said at a Congressional hearing in March that China's threats toward Taiwan could manifest in the next six years as Beijing seeks to supplant the U.S. leadership role in the international order.

John Aquilino, who succeeded Davidson in April, declined to endorse that specific timeline at his nomination confirmation hearing later in March, but he told lawmakers the problem is "much closer to us than most think."

Milley said on Wednesday he does not dismiss the comments made by the two admirals, but does not see China's threats "happening right out of the blue."

"President Xi and his military would do the calculation and they know that an invasion in order to seize an island that big with that many people and the defensive capability the Taiwanese have would be extraordinarily complicated and costly," he added.

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

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