By Reuters and published by Swissinfo.ch
Washington – A top Republican in the US Congress on Sunday (Jan. 29) said the odds of conflict with China over Taiwan “are very high,” after a US general caused consternation with a memo that warned that the United States would fight China in the next two years.
In a memo dated Feb. 1 but released on Friday, General Mike Minihan, who heads the Air Mobility Command, wrote to the leadership of its roughly 110,000 members, saying, “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”
“I hope he is wrong. … I think he is right though,” Mike McCaul, the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives, told Fox News on Sunday.
The general’s views do not represent the Pentagon but show concern at the highest levels of the US military over a possible attempt by China to exert control over Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province.
Both the United States and Taiwan will hold presidential elections in 2024, potentially creating an opportunity for China to take military action, Minihan wrote.
McCaul said that if China failed to take control of Taiwan bloodlessly then “they are going to look at a military invasion in my judgement. We have to be prepared for this.”
He accused the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden of projecting weakness after the bungled pullout from Afghanistan that could make war with China more likely.
“The odds are very high that we could see a conflict with China and Taiwan and the Indo Pacific,” McCaul said.
The White House declined to comment on McCaul’s remarks.
Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he disagreed with Minihan’s assessment.
Smith told Fox News on Sunday that war with China is “not only not inevitable, it is highly unlikely. We have a very dangerous situation in China. But I think generals need to be very cautious about saying we’re going to war, it’s inevitable.”
Smith said the United States needs to be in a position to deter China from military action against Taiwan, “but I’m fully confident we can avoid that conflict if we take the right approach.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this month said he seriously doubted that ramped-up Chinese military activities near the Taiwan Strait were a sign of an imminent invasion of the island by Beijing.
A Pentagon official on Saturday said the general’s comments were “not representative of the department’s view on China.”
Top: Self-ruled, democratic Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which considers the island a part of its territory. File photo: AFP/Sam Yeh and published by CNA
First insert: US Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) arrives at Trump Tower to meet with US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, US, on November 29, 2016. File photo: Reuters/Mike Segar and published by Swissinfo.ch
Second insert: In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defence, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location. File photo: Taiwan Ministry of Defence via AP and published by CNA
Front Page: US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia, on November 14, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque and published by CNN
(Reporting By Ross Colvin; Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Mark Porter)
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