World, Asia - Pacific

Chinese attack on Taiwan ‘imminent’: Ex-US National Security Council official

‘China is expanding its influence as a superpower and trying to isolate US from its allies,’ says Robert Spalding

Jo Harper  | 07.09.2023 - Update : 07.09.2023
Chinese attack on Taiwan ‘imminent’: Ex-US National Security Council official


Chinese President Xi Jinping could soon decide to copy Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine with a military attack on Taiwan, according to a former US National Security Council official.

“I do think it’s (a Chinese attack on Taiwan) imminent,” Robert Spalding, a retired US Air Force brigadier general, told Anadolu at the 32nd Economic Forum in Karpacz, Poland.

“The more Xi puts restrictions on its economy and the more it puts restrictions on the US and multinational corporations to operate in China, the less incentive it will have not to attack Taiwan, because it’s creating a decoupling of its own.”

Ever since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out last year, observers have been closely watching China’s moves regarding Taiwan.

Tensions have escalated as increased interaction between Taipei, the US and its allies has triggered angry responses from Beijing.

Beijing claims Taiwan, an island nation of 24 million people, as a breakaway province, while Taipei has insisted on its independence since 1949.

Observers have previously said that China could replicate Russia’s actions in Ukraine if it ever tries to bring Taiwan under its control.

Beijing has dismissed the assertions of an impending attack, but made it clear that it considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory and would even use force to reunite it with the mainland.

‘China expanding its influence as a superpower’

Spalding, who served as the senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council in the Trump administration, believes a new Cold War is already underway and China is keen to show its power.

“I think as China sees it’s relying less and less on its export-driven economy, it’s going to be more and more incentivized to go ahead and invade Taiwan, and Xi Jinping has already said he’s going to do that,” he said.

“China is expanding its influence as a superpower and trying to isolate the US from its allies.”

In recent months, the US has approved weapons and equipment packages for Taiwan worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and also ramped up diplomatic traffic to Taipei with regular trips by lawmakers and former officials.

China has repeatedly urged Washington to halt military and diplomatic engagement with Taiwan. It has also sanctioned American defense contractors for selling weapons to the island nation.

The US has a longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan, which means it has not explicitly stated whether it would defend the island nation in the event of a Chinese attack.

However, President Joe Biden has vowed to come to Taiwan’s defense in case of a Chinese attack.

Spalding said China’s aim would be to take over Taiwan before US forces have a chance to respond.

“By the time the US has a chance to up its production capacity, the conflict would be over,” he said.​​​​​​​

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