TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The top commander of the U.S. Navy (USN) on Thursday (Oct. 19) said that a fleet must be prepared for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan that could happen at any point before 2024, far earlier than the previously anticipated date of 2027.
During an event held by the Atlantic Council, Defense News Naval Warfare Reporter Megan Eckstein said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday raised eyebrows when he revealed that China is now pursuing "reunification on a much faster timeline." Eckstein then asked how the USN can prepare a ready fleet faster given the "Davidson Window" — Admiral Philip Davidson's prediction that China would be able to invade Taiwan by 2027 — and bellicose rhetoric at China's 20th National Congress.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said that analysis of the 20th National Congress is still ongoing, but he emphasized the key to observing China is not so much what Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) says, but rather "how the Chinese behave and what they do."
Gilday observed that over the past two decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had delivered on every promise it had made ahead of schedule. Regarding the 2027 window, Gilday said "in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window."
The navy chief warned that much earlier timelines cannot be ruled out. "I don’t mean at all to be alarmist by saying that. It’s just that we can’t wish that away," said Gilday, noting that Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine was not predicted by many experts.
“It is not just what President Xi says, but it is how the Chinese behave and what they do,” says @USNavyCNO Admiral Mike Gilday.— Atlantic Council (@AtlanticCouncil) October 19, 2022
Over the past 20 years, they have delivered on every promise they have made earlier than they said they were going to deliver it, he explains. pic.twitter.com/weLfGFqqqg