The regime in Beijing will be fully capable of mounting a full-scale invasion of Taiwan by 2025, the island’s defense minister warned on Oct. 6.
The remarks follow four days of escalated Chinese military pressure targeting Taiwan, which saw nearly 150 warplanes fly into the island’s air defense zone.
“It is the toughest situation I have seen in more than 40 years of my military life,” Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said at a parliamentary committee hearing on Oct. 6. “For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me.”
While the Chinese Communist Party currently has the ability to invade Taiwan, the costs of doing so may be too high, Chiu told reporters. But by 2025, Beijing would be able to do so at a minimal cost and thus have the “full ability” to mount an invasion, he said.
The Chinese regime views the self-ruled island as one of its territories, to be taken by force if necessary.
Chiu’s remarks were made before a parliamentary committee reviewing an $8.6 billion spending plan to build and mass-produce homegrown missiles and ships for the next five years. The proposal would be in addition to the 2022 military budget of $13.4 billion, implemented in response to Beijing’s increased military spending and increased air force and navy activities near Taiwan.
The defense ministry noted in its spending proposal that more than 600 Chinese military aircraft have flown into its air defense zone thus far in 2021, almost doubling the 380 incursions of 2020, according to state news agency CNA.
In March, Adm. Philip Davidson, then-head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said during a Senate hearing that the Chinese regime could invade Taiwan “in the next six years.” The admiral expressed his concern that Beijing’s growing assertiveness posed a threat to the United States in the Indo-Pacific, an area which he described as the “most consequential region for America’s future.”
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in an essay published on Oct. 5 that failure to defend the island would cause “catastrophic” consequences for regional peace and democracy.
“It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy,” Tsai wrote, regarding a potential fall of Taiwan.
On Oct. 5, President Joe Biden said that he had spoken with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about Taiwan and that they agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement.”
“We agree. We will abide by the Taiwan agreement. That’s where we are, and I made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement,” Biden told reporters.
Biden appeared to be referring to Washington’s long-standing “one-China policy,” under which it officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei, and the Taiwan Relations Act, which makes clear that the U.S. decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing instead of Taiwan rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.
In contrast, the Chinese regime stands by its own “one-China principle,” under which Beijing asserts sovereignty over Taiwan. The Chinese regime has a known track record of demanding other governments adopt its stance on Taiwan, which the United States hasn’t accepted.
Cathy He and Reuters contributed to this report.