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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

China's threats toward Taiwan could manifest in 6 years: U.S.

ROC Central News Agency

03/10/2021 05:39 PM

Washington, March 9 (CNA) China's threats toward Taiwan could manifest in the next six years as China seeks to supplant the U.S. leadership role in the international order, a top U.S. military commander said on Tuesday.

Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, made the comments at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in response to questions posed by Republican Senator Dan Sullivan.

Sullivan first brought up "alarming maneuvers" that China has enacted under Chinese President Xi Jinping's (習近平) leadership in the past year, including major cyber-attacks, economic sanctions against Australia, crushing dissent in Hong Kong and "very aggressive military actions in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea."

Considering these actions, the senator asked Davidson how he will extrapolate the timeline on "any potential conflict" in the Taiwan Strait.

In response, Davidson said that based on the number of military assets that China has been deploying and the advancement of its capabilities, in combination with the aforementioned maneuvers, he is concerned that the Chinese are "accelerating their ambitions to supplant the U.S. and our leadership role in the rules-based international order."

"They've long said that they wanted do that by 2050. I'm worried about them moving that target closer," Davidson continued.

"Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then and I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years," he said.

Several other senators on the committee also questioned Davidson on issues related to Taiwan, including Republican Rick Scott, who recently introduced the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act to the Senate.

Scott asked Davidson whether he agreed that the U.S. has to "prevent communist China from controlling Taiwan" and that the loss of Taiwan would devastate the ability of the U.S. and its allies to counter China's aggression.

Scott also said he believes it is time for the U.S. to end its strategic ambiguity regarding Taiwan and to state clearly that it will not allow China to invade and subdue Taiwan, and asked Davidson to comment on the issue.

Davidson replied that he has an obligation to support the Taiwan Relations Act as a commander, "and in a geostrategic sense, I think it is critically important to the global status of the U.S."

In terms of the U.S.' strategic ambiguity on Taiwan, Davidson said that this policy has kept Taiwan in its current status, although "these things should be reconsidered routinely."

Questioned by Senator Marsha Blackburn, also of the Republican Party, on joint military exercises with Taiwan, Davidson said that the Indo-Pacific Command provides support to Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercises.

Josh Hawley, another Republican Senator, asked Davidson whether it is essential that the U.S. maintains the ability to defeat a Chinese fait accompli against Taiwan in order to strengthen deterrence against China, with which Davidson agreed.

In Davidson's written testimony to the committee, he said that "the cross-strait situation is of increasing concern, given the harsh rhetoric from Beijing toward Taipei."

"General Secretary Xi Jinping's 2019 New Year's speech made it clear that Beijing is focused on achieving unification as part of the PRC's national plan of rejuvenation, stating that 'we do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures,'" Davidson wrote.

"The United States has a deep and abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and welcomes steps from the PRC to reduce tension and improve cross-strait relations," he said.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Chiang Yi-ching)

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