Russia’s experience in Ukraine forces China to rethink when, not if, to invade Taiwan: CIA chief

China appears determined to use force in Taiwan, with Russia’s experience in Ukraine affecting Beijing’s calculations of when and how – not if – to invade, the CIA chief said on Wednesday.

Appearing at the Aspen Security Forum, Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns said China likely saw in Ukraine that “you don’t win quick, decisive victories with disappointing strength.”

He played down speculation that Chinese President Xi Jinping could travel to Taiwan after a key Communist Party meeting later this year, but said the risks “become higher, it seems to us, the further we go. in this decade”.

“I would not underestimate President Xi’s determination to assert China’s control” over self-governing Taiwan, he said.

Burns said China was “disturbed” over Russia’s five-month war in Ukraine, which he called a “strategic failure” for President Vladimir Putin as he hoped to overthrow the Kyiv government in one week.

“Our feeling is that it probably affects less whether Chinese leaders might choose in a few years to use force to control Taiwan, but how and when they would,” Burns said.

“I suspect the lesson the Chinese leadership and military are learning is that you have to amass overwhelming force if you’re considering this in the future,” he said.

China has also likely learned that it needs to ‘control the information space’ and ‘do everything you can to protect your economy from the potential for sanctions’, he said in a live interview. with NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Burns, consistent with previous US assessments, said the United States did not believe Beijing was offering military support to Russia despite the rhetorical support.

He said China had stepped up its purchases of Russian energy, but seemed cautious not to incur Western sanctions.

“Peaceful Reunification”

Defeated Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war on the mainland. The island has since become a vibrant democracy and a leading technological powerhouse, but China claims it as its territory.

Speaking to Burns at the forum in the Rocky Mountains, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang said Beijing still prefers “peaceful reunification”.

But he accused the United States of backing “independence” forces in Taiwan, where President Tsai Ing-wen has asserted the island’s separate identity.

“No conflict and no war is the biggest consensus between China and the United States,” Qin said.

But the United States is “obvious and blurring” its stated policy of only recognizing Beijing, he said.

“Only by strictly adhering to the one-China policy, uniting to coerce and oppose Taiwan independence, can we have peaceful reunification,” he said. declared.

Under a law passed by Congress when Washington transferred recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, the United States is required to supply arms to Taiwan for self-defense.

President Joe Biden said in May that the United States was prepared to use force to defend Taiwan against Chinese attack, appearing to resolve long-standing American ambiguity over whether he would engage militarily, although the White House quickly backtracked on his comments.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he expected to speak to Xi “within the next 10 days.”

A number of US delegations have visited Taiwan, mostly former officials, but Beijing recently warned against a travel plan flagged by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is third in line for president.

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