Russia’s ongoing struggle to defeat Ukraine has altered the scale and timeline surrounding China’s Taiwan invasion strategy, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said Wednesday.
Beijing is “unsettled” by Russia’s “strategic failure” in Ukraine and now believes it requires “overwhelming force” to conquer Taiwan, CIA Director William Burns said during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than 10,000 have died as of June 24, many of whom have been civilians, BBC News reported.
After the Kremlin launched a multi-pronged attack on Ukraine, poor planning, overconfidence and fierce resistance contributed to heavy Russian casualties and a failure to capture any major cities in the early days of the war, Defense One reported. Meanwhile, international sanctions have been levied against Russia’s economy and the Ukrainian war effort has been bolstered by an influx of money and military hardware from the U.S. and other allied countries, such as the United Kingdom.
“Our sense is that [the Ukraine war] probably affects less the question of whether the Chinese leadership might choose some years down the road to use force to control Taiwan, but how and when they would do it,” Burns said.
While the CIA director said he didn’t believe China was waiting to invade Taiwan until just after General Secretary Xi Jinping stands for re-election later this year, Burns said the risk of an invasion will grow throughout the coming decade because Xi is determined to “assert China’s control” over the island nation.
Beijing rejects Taiwan’s sovereignty and the People’s Liberation Army often threatens “reunification-by-force,” claiming that Taiwan is ruled by “secessionists.” The People’s Republic of China was established by the Chinese Communist Party in the final days of China’s Civil War which ended when the Nationalists fled from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949, according to Britannica.
The Department of Defense (DOD) referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to remarks made by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during the Singapore Fullerton Lecture Series in July 2021 when asked how the DOD intends to prepare for a communist invasion of Taiwan.
“We’re operating under a new 21st century vision that I call integrated deterrence,” Austin said, defining the term as “using every military and non-military tool in our toolbox in lockstep with our allies and partners.”
To achieve this end, the DOD intends to expand the U.S. military’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, increase training and enhance cooperation with partner nations, such as Taiwan, he stated.
“We will not flinch when our interests are threatened,” said Austin. “Yet we do not seek confrontation.”
The Chinese Embassy and the CIA did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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