China attack on Taiwan could happen sooner than most think: US admiral

A Chinese attack on Taiwan could happen sooner than most think, warns a top U.S. admiral. Admiral John Aquilino, who's nominated to lead the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, made the comment at his confirmation hearing before the Senate on Tuesday. When asked to put a timeframe on a move from Beijing, Aquilino declined, but said, quote, "the problem is much closer to us than most think."

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Earlier this month, the outgoing head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Philip Davidson predicted that China may invade Taiwan within the next six years. Now Admiral Aquilino, who’s nominated to take his place, has sounded an even more dire warning.

John Aquilino, nominee for head of Indo-Pacom: My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think, and we have to take this on, put those deterrence capabilities like PDI [Pacific Deterrence Initiative] in place, in the near term and with urgency.

With cross-strait ties unraveling fast, the Taiwan Strait has become a major military flashpoint. U.S. lawmaker Scott Perry has introduced a bill called the Taiwan PLUS Act. It proposes adding Taiwan to the so-called NATO Plus group, giving it the same arms deal access that other members have and granting it diplomatic recognition.

Joseph Wu, foreign minister: We are grateful for the proposal made by the U.S. congressman. And we will work hard to communicate with the Executive Branch over the strengthening of our security relationship with the U.S. But I do still have to emphasize, once again, that when it comes to the security of Taiwan, we have an obligation to ourselves.

Freddy Lim, independent lawmaker: For Taiwan, of course, this is a very positive development. In the end, regardless of whether the bill succeeds, I think it is beneficial to have more international alliances concerning regional security, democracy and freedom that allow Taiwan’s participation – that is, its above-board participation. I think that would be in line with Taiwan’s interests and also in line with regional security.

With China emerging as Public Enemy No. 1, the U.S. is ramping up its Taiwan support for strengthening its defense in the Indo-Pacific, all in the effort to curb Beijing.

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