U.S. warns China against Taiwan attack, stresses U.S. 'ambiguity'

By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.

Reuters October 08, 2020 07:10:08 IST
U.S. warns China against Taiwan attack, stresses U.S. 'ambiguity'

US warns China against Taiwan attack stresses US ambiguity

By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. national security adviser warned China on Wednesday against any attempt to retake Taiwan by force, saying amphibious landings were notoriously difficult and there was a lot of ambiguity about how the United States would respond.

Robert O'Brien told an event at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas that China was engaged in a massive naval buildup probably not seen since Germany's attempt to compete with Britain's Royal Navy prior to World War One.

"Part of that is to give them the ability to push us back out of the Western Pacific, and allow them to engage in an amphibious landing in Taiwan," he said.

"The problem with that is that amphibious landings are notoriously difficult," O'Brien added, pointing to the 100-mile (160-km) distance between China and Taiwan and the paucity of landing beaches on the island.

"It's not an easy task, and there's also a lot of ambiguity about what the United States would do in response to an attack by China on Taiwan," he added, when asked what U.S. options would be if China moved to try to absorb Taiwan.

O'Brien was referring to a long-standing U.S. policy of "strategic ambiguity" on the question of whether it would intervene to protect Taiwan, which China considers a its province and has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

The United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it has not made clear whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack, something that would likely lead to a much broader conflict with Beijing.

O'Brien's comments come at a time when China has significantly stepped up military activity near Taiwan and when U.S.-China relations have plunged to the lowest point in decades in the run-up to President Donald Trump's Nov. 3 re-election bid.

O'Brien repeated U.S. calls for Taiwan to spend more on its own defense and to carry out military reforms to make clear to China the risks of attempting to invade.

"You can't just spend 1% of your GDP, which the Taiwanese have been doing - 1.2% - on defense, and hope to deter a China that's been engaged in the most massive military build up in 70 years," he said.

Taiwan needed to "turn themselves into a porcupine" militarily, he said, adding: "Lions generally don't like to eat porcupines."

On Tuesday, the senior U.S. defense official for East Asia called Taiwan's plan to boost defense spending by $1.4 billion next year insufficient.

He said it needed to invest in capabilities including more coastal defense cruise missiles, naval mines, fast-attack craft, mobile artillery and advanced surveillance assets.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Michael Perry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.