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US Indo-Pacific military chief says Chinese threat to Taiwan serious

Aquilino says China has grown bolder in increasing pressure on Taiwan

Adm. John Aquilino (left) watches footage of China's South China Sea islands March 20. 

Adm. John Aquilino (left) watches footage of China's South China Sea islands March 20.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Russian invasion of Ukraine shows that Asian nations must take the possibility of a Chinese attack on Taiwan seriously, United States Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John Aquilino said in an interview with the Financial Times published Friday (March 25).

As of five months ago, nobody would have predicted the war in Ukraine, and the number one lesson from it should be that anything could happen, he said. The military chief voiced concern about China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan as well as its expanding nuclear force and the testing of a hypersonic weapon last July.

While he said he did not think the new weapon is specifically targeted at Taiwan, he said it destabilizes the region. Aquilino also emphasized that troops in various countries in the region need to be prepared to work together.

While it is difficult to predict what Japan and Australia will decide to do in the event of a Chinese attack against Taiwan, their military forces need to be ready for any government plan by continuing to train and operate together, Aquilino said.

The U.S. and its allies cannot afford to be complacent, as China is clearly cranking up the pressure on Taipei with the repeated incursions of its Air Force planes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). He said he is not more concerned than before, but he does see the pressure increasing, and with it the need to be prepared for any eventuality.