China is quickly amassing weapons and systems to militarily overwhelm Taiwan, an action it could be poised to take within the next six years, the admiral chosen to be the next commander of US forces in the Pacific warned Tuesday.
“My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think,” Adm. John Aquilino said before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was reviewing his nomination to lead the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command.
China considers establishing full control over Taiwan to be its “number one priority,” added Aquilino.
The current head of the command, Adm. Philip Davidson, told a hearing earlier this month that China could be prepared to take Taiwan, the self-governed democratic island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory, by force within the next six years.
But Aquilino said Beijing is establishing a track record of using force to achieve Communist Party goals sooner than US planners forecast.
“We’ve seen aggressive actions earlier than we anticipated, whether it be on the Indian border or whether it be in Hong Kong or whether it be against the Uyghurs. We’ve seen things that I don’t think we expected, and that’s why I continue to talk about a sense of urgency. We ought to be prepared today,” Aquilino said.
Aquilino did not provide an exact timeframe on when China might attempt a military takeover of Taiwan, nor did he cite any new or specific intelligence in support of his claim.