China will be ready for potential Taiwan invasion by 2027, US admiral warns

U.S. Adm. John Aquilino, head of Indo-Pacific Command, said “all indications” point to the Chinese military being ready for a potential invasion of Taiwan by 2027, the date China’s leader Xi Jinping has set for a possible military operation.

Aquilino testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues an “aggressive military buildup” and modernization effort.

“All indications point to the PLA meeting President Xi Jinping’s directive to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027,” the admiral said in a statement released ahead of his testimony. “Furthermore, the PLA’s actions indicate their ability to meet Xi’s preferred timeline to unify Taiwan with mainland China by force if directed.”

China increased its defense budget by 7.2 percent this year, the third year in a row that Beijing has boosted the budget, Aquilino told lawmakers during the Senate hearing.

“My assessment is they are actually spending more on defense than they articulate,” he said, adding later that “we haven’t faced a threat like this since World War II.”

Aquilino said at the hearing that the “trend is going in the wrong direction” for the U.S. and pushed for more resources to counter the Chinese buildup.

While China is pursuing the 2027 objective to prepare for an invasion, a military invasion of the island is not assured.

Aquilino said China will seek to unify with Taiwan through other means by force, but he stressed Beijing has not ruled out military force if those efforts fail.

“Although the PRC claims it prefers to achieve unification through peaceful means, Xi will not renounce the use of force,” he said in the statement.

Still, China has grown increasingly aggressive against Taiwan in recent years, conducting frequent military drills and airspace violations around the island nation, which has self-ruled since 1949 after breaking off from communist rule on the mainland. China has also floated spy balloons around the island.

The democratic island nation has moved further from China and closer to the U.S., with January elections empowering another pro-Washington administration.

The U.S. has informal relations with Taiwan but commits to arming and supporting the country. American troops in the Indo-Pacific are also bolstering alliances with countries like the Philippines and Australia as the potential for a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan looms.

Aquilino said in the statement that the PLA is pursuing an “integrated, joint, high-tech, network-centric military force.”

“Modernization has remained aggressive,” he said, “and China remains committed to delivering the capabilities needed to achieve its objective by 2027.”

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