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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Chinese threat to invade Taiwan 'closer than most think': U.S. admiral

ROC Central News Agency

03/24/2021 04:46 PM

Washington, March 23 (CNA) The threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is "much closer to us than most think," Admiral John Aquilino, who has been nominated to lead the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told senators Tuesday.

Aquilino made the comments at his nomination hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, in response to questions by Senator Tom Cotton.

Cotton asked Aquilino whether he agreed with the outgoing head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Philip Davidson, who told senators in early March that China's threats toward Taiwan could manifest in action in the next six years.

Aquilino responded by saying that there are "many numbers out there" that span "from today to 2045," although he believes that "this problem is much closer to us than most think."

Asked why Beijing has such a strong desire to annex Taiwan, Aquilino said that China's leaders view the issue as "their number one priority" and see it as critical to the "rejuvenation of the Chinese Communist Party."

From a military and strategic standpoint, a conflict over Taiwan could potentially impact two-thirds of the world's trade and damage U.S. relations with its allies, Aquilino said.

Aquilino also said during the hearing that "the most dangerous concern is that of military force against Taiwan."

To combat that, the U.S. should have forces in the region that are able to respond quickly and work with nations with common values, he said.

In his written testimony to the committee, Aquilino said that China's military threat to Taiwan is increasing.

"The People's Liberation Army continues to field a broad array of advanced weapons and systems as part of ongoing force modernization specifically intended to achieve decisive overmatch against Taiwan," he wrote.

If he is confirmed, Aquilino said the Indo-Pacific command will continue to advise Taiwan "through security cooperation and foreign military sales in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act."

On the subject of Taiwan's military, Aquilino said that he was encouraged by "its continued funding of foreign and indigenous acquisition programs, as well as near-term training and readiness."

He advised Taiwan to "prioritize the acquisition of asymmetric systems that are highly mobile, easily distributed and lethal to enable Taiwan to defend itself against attack."

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

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