The United States’ top military general has warned China is close to having the military capability to invade Taiwan should Beijing give the go ahead.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told Australian public broadcaster ABC7 during a tour of the Indo-Pacific region that China’s increasing military strength was “very, very concerning”.
His comments come amid growing tensions over a planned visit by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
Chinese officials have threatened unspecified “resolute and strong measures” in response to the trip.
The US military is preparing to increase its movement of fighter jets, ships and surveillance assets in the region should Ms Pelosi’s visit occur, officials told the Associated Press.
Asked about the House speaker’s trip by ABC7 on Wednesday, Mr Milley said: “If in fact, Speaker Pelosi decides to travel, I don’t know that it will increase tension. There is certainly some rhetoric that is coming out of China that is quite disturbing.”
General Mark Milley is the highest-ranking military officer in the US and principal military advisor to the president. He's in Australia for a conference of defence chiefs where tensions with China were high on the agenda. @FergusonNews #abc730 pic.twitter.com/3LqJ0up11z— abc730 (@abc730) July 27, 2022
He said while the US was keeping a close eye on Chinese military build-up, there were no signs of an imminent attack.
“It’s clear the Chinese are developing the capabilities in all the domains in space and cyber but also the traditional domains of land, sea and air to conduct a cross-channel attack, an invasion if you will, to seize the island of Taiwan if they made the political decision to do so.”
Mr Milley was also asked about recent remarks by President Joe Biden that the US would use force to defend Taiwan.
“We are always prepared for all kinds of different contingencies and I don’t think it would be wise for me to broadcast on media what we prepare for in the future,” he said.
“I would just leave the policy as it is and obviously we take our direction from the commander-in-chief and will do as directed.
“I will tell you that we’re quite prepared to deal with any contingencies that occur.”
President Biden surprised many China-US observers when he vowed to come to Taiwan’s aid in the event of an invasion during a trip to Japan in May.
“That’s the commitment we made,” Mr Biden said at the time.
This week, Mr Biden said that the military thinks Ms Pelosi’s Taiwan trip “might not be a good idea”.
He is due to speak to Chinese leader Xi Jinping by phone for the first time in months later this week.
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