A high-level Navy official said Wednesday that the US should prepare for the possibility of China invading Taiwan as soon as this year.
“So when we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window. I can’t rule it out,” said Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations.
The “2027 window” refers to a claim from retired Adm. Phil Davidson, the former head of US Indo-Pacific Command, who said last year he believes China could invade within six years. Gilday said he was prioritizing a “fight tonight” posture for the US Navy with respect to China and Russia.
Gilday said his assessment was based on comments Chinese President Xi Jinping made this week, although the Chinese leader only reiterated that he seeks “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but won’t rule out the use of force.
“It’s not just what President Xi says, but it’s how the Chinese behave and what they do,” Gilday said. “What we’ve seen over the past 20 years is that they have delivered on every promise they’ve made earlier than they said they were going to deliver on it.”
While US officials are always warning that China is planning to invade Taiwan, Beijing has little interest in doing so as it would require the largest amphibious invasion in military history. If China chooses to take military action against Taiwan, it would likely initially opt for a blockade, which it simulated in unprecedented exercises around the island in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visiting Taipei.
Gilday’s warning comes as the US is working to send massive amounts of weapons to Taiwan. While done in the name of deterrence, China’s actions and rhetoric make it clear that more US support for Taiwan will make Chinese military action more likely.
During his speech earlier this week, Xi also warned strongly against “interference” from outside forces, and other Chinese officials have explicitly warned that US support for Taiwan’s “independence forces” could lead to war.