International

Taiwan official says China has debated attacking islands it controls

A top Taiwan security official said that China has internally considered attacking Taiwan’s Pratas Islands but said it would hold off on the move until 2024, the year Chinese President Tsai Ing-wen’s second term ends.

National Security Bureau Director-General Chen Ming-tong did not specify how he obtained the information about the possible attack or its timeline, according to Reuters

“Attacking and capturing the Pratas Islands – this scenario where war is being used to force (Taiwan into) talks – our assessment is that this will not happen during President Tsai’s tenure,” Chen said in a parliamentary meeting, per Reuters.

Chen also acknowledged that relations with China are more intense than in the past, but reiterated that it was unlikely that an attack would take place during Tsai’s time in office.

Experts say the Pratas Islands could be especially vulnerable to Chinese attack given their location over 250 miles from Taiwan’s mainland. Some fear that such an attack could dramatically escalate tensions and prompt a war, Reuters reported. 

While Taiwan has promised to fight for its freedom and democracy, the self-governed island claimed by Beijing has expressed a desire to maintain the existing condition of its relationship with China.

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said on Wednesday that the U.S. military could “absolutely” defend Taiwan if called upon in the event of an attack from China. 

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that the U.S. would ensure Taiwan had the ability to defend itself if attacked. 

When asked if Blinken could specifically confirm President Biden‘s statement in a CNN town hall saying the U.S. would protect Taiwan, Blinken reiterated that the country’s policies on dealing with Taiwan had not changed.

“What I can tell you is that we remain committed, resolutely committed, to our responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act, including making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself from any aggression,” Blinken said.

Tags Antony Blinken Chen Ming-tong China Joe Biden Mark Milley Taiwan Taiwan Relations Act

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