Republican congressman for Wisconsin Mike Gallagher, a marine veteran who served on the Armed Forces Committee, told Fox News that China could look to invade Taiwan and reclaim the island nation at the start of 2024, when both Taiwan and the US have presidential elections. Congressman Gallagher said he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping will not hesitate to launch an attack as soon as he “feels that his military has the capability” to successfully reclaim the nation. Other US officials, however, warned that China could seek to invade sooner, within the “next 18 months”, as tensions in the Indo-Pacific continue to grow following Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week.
Congressman Gallagher said: “I believe we really enter the window of maximum danger starting in January of 2024 when we have a presidential election in Taiwan and, of course, we will have our own presidential election in America.
“Things could heat up well before that but I do believe that President Xi Jinping will attempt an invasion of Taiwan when he feels that his military has the capability to do it.
“This is our most vexing national security problem and we need to move with a sense of urgency to deter such an invasion.”
A former senior intelligence official added that China’s threat of invading Taiwan has recently gone from being an “indefinite, nebulous” issue to a “window of opportunity”.
The former intelligence official said: “We have always had and always been aware that China has an ever-present, ever-evolving plan for an amphibious assault and military invasion of Taiwan.
“If they are not successful in reunifying politically, then they will do so with force.
“What is different now is, we have intelligence that this has gone from an indefinite, nebulous scenario, to a belief that there is a window of opportunity in the next 18 months.
“I don’t think that’s a coincidence that window of opportunity is within a Biden administration.”
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China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles near Taiwan on Thursday in its biggest-ever drills in the Taiwan Strait, a day after Ms Pelosi made a solidarity trip to the self-ruled island.
China’s military confirmed multiple firings of conventional missiles in waters off Taiwan as part of planned exercises in six zones set to run until noon on Sunday. It activated more than 100 planes, including fighter jets and bombers, and over 10 warships, state broadcaster CCTV said.
A Chinese defence ministry spokesperson said: “The US-Taiwan collusion and provocation will only push Taiwan towards the abyss of disaster, bringing catastrophe to Taiwan compatriots.”
Taiwan said 11 Chinese Dongfeng ballistic missiles had been fired in nearby waters – the first time since 1996 – while Japan protested that five missiles appeared to land in its economic zone.
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