TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. military commander in the Pacific on Friday (Jan. 26) said that China is likely to make a show of force against Taiwan following its recent elections.
U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C. Aquilino was the keynote speaker at the Pacific Forum in Honolulu, Hawaii on Jan. 26. During his opening remarks, Aquilino said that the U.S. is monitoring China's ongoing "coercive pressure campaign against Taiwan" following the Taiwanese presidential election on Jan. 13.
Aquilino predicted that Beijing will launch "some demonstration of force against Taiwan in the near term." He said China would take this punitive action simply because Taiwan held a "free and fair election, of which a candidate was elected."
He also said that Beijing will seek to pour pressure on countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. He noted that Nauru cut ties with Taiwan in favor of China just two days after the election and alleged that their official statements following the severing of relations were "probably authored by the PRC."
During the Q&A session, Aquilino was asked how he believes the election outcome will affect China's harassment against Taiwan. He responded that based on past behavior, "When something occurs that they don’t like, they tend to take actions," and cited the ramped-up Chinese military exercises after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in 2022.
Aquilino suggested that China will launch provocative actions that are not triggered by actual U.S. movements but will be painted in the "information space" as a response to U.S. aggression. He argued that although such alleged aggression did not take place, "they've just got to say it enough times."
Therefore, Aquilino said it is important "we understand what should come and you should expect it." He said he has called on allies and partners to help "push back against mis- and disinformation."