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China Wants a Military Ready to Conquer Taiwan by 2030

Chinese PLA Tank. Image: Creative Commons.

China has been working on developing its military might since the late 1990s. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars, Beijing now seems to have a very clear goal in mind that could rattle nerves in Asia: A top US intelligence official said China is set on building a military capable of taking over Taiwan by 2030.

“It’s our view that they are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Haines said the threat to Taiwan was “acute” between now and 2030.

China has long said that Taiwan, an island nation of 23 million people located 100 miles off China’s east coast, must become part of the mainland. Taiwan has been self-ruling for decades and fiercely maintains its independence.

Experts and Western officials have kept a close eye on China since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, hoping to glean whether the global backlash and threat of sanctions has deterred Beijing.

“What is hard to tell is how, for example, whatever lessons China learns coming out of the Russia-Ukraine crisis might affect that timeline,” Haines said Tuesday.

Senior Taiwanese officials fear China is building toward an invasion and the slogan “Today, Ukraine, tomorrow, Taiwan!” spread widely across Taiwanese social media after Russia invaded.

Speaking on Saturday, CIA Director Bill Burns said the Ukraine crisis did not appear to have put China off entirely.

“I don’t think for a minute it’s eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan but I think its something that’s affecting their calculation about how and when they go about doing that,” he said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The warnings from Haines and Burns came just days after Adm. Charles Richard, the head of the US Strategic Command, told US lawmakers that China “will likely use nuclear coercion to their advantage in the future.”

“Their intent is to achieve the military capability to reunify Taiwan by 2027,” he said.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, China said it was committed to “resolving the Taiwan question in the new era,” euphemistically refer to China’s plans to bring the island country under its control. The time frame for the “new era” remains unclear.

The US has publicly shown its support for Taiwan since Russia invaded Ukraine, with President Joe Biden dispatching a group of former US officials to Taipei in March.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration quietly told Taiwan to start ordering US weapons that will maximize its chances should China invade, such as missiles and smaller arms for asymmetric warfare, The New York Times reported.

In January, Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the US, told NPR: “If Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the US, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the US … in a military conflict.”

Chinese planes have carried out multiple training exercises near Taiwan’s air space in recent months.

Bill Bostock is an award-winning journalist who covers world affairs for Business Insider.

Written By

Bill is an award-winning journalist who covers world affairs for Business Insider.