The Pentagon has not changed its assessment that China is not planning to invade Taiwan in the next two years, the Defense Department’s top policy office said Monday, despite Beijing’s launching unprecedented military drills around the island last week.
In answer to a question about whether the military has a new assessment as to whether China will take Taiwan by force in the next two years given the events of the last week, Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said succinctly: “No.”
Beijing last week undertook an unprecedented series of military exercises in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, encircling the island with six active military zones and repeatedly flying aircraft across the median line separating Taiwan’s territorial waters from China’s.
The Chinese military also launched roughly a dozen missiles near Taiwan, including at least one that appeared to fly directly over the island.
Kahl’s comments that the Pentagon does not think that China will imminently invade Taiwan reflect attempts by the Biden administration to downplay the drills, with officials saying they are more bluster than an indication of military activity.
But Kahl condemned China’s attempt to “salami slice their way into a new status quo” by repeatedly overflying the median line.
“Really, it's the activities in the strait itself, the sheer number of maritime and air assets that are crossing over this kind of de facto centerline, creeping closer to Taiwan’s shores,” that officials are noticing, Kahl said.
“It's clear that Beijing is trying to create a kind of new normal with the goal of trying to coerce Taiwan but also frankly to coerce the international community given the importance of the Taiwan Strait to the global economy,” he added.
Kahl said China’s reaction to Pelosi’s visit was a “manufactured” crisis, noting that U.S representatives regularly travel to Taiwan.
The United States continues to support a One China policy and does not recognize Taiwan as a separate nation, but Washington supports Taipei with arms sales for self-defense.
“Our policy has not changed, it is support for the status quo,” Kahl said. “China's policy is what's changed.”