Beijing has the upper hand in the Western Pacific, a former US Army vice chief of staff has warned
The US would be at a disadvantage if it engaged in a direct military confrontation with China over Taiwan, former Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army Jack Keane has suggested.
China possesses “more ships, more airplanes, [and] more offensive and defensive missiles than the United States” in the Western Pacific, Keane claimed on Friday in comments to Fox News, where he works as a senior strategic analyst.
The retired general predicted, however, that Beijing would likely opt for a different strategy whereby it would attempt to bring Taiwan under control by imposing a total blockade.
The retired general argued that China could prevail “without firing a shot,” rather than getting involved in a costly confrontation. To ensure that outcome, the leadership in Beijing would need to establish control over Taiwan’s airspace as well as sea lanes, Keane suggested.
The US would be well advised to beef up its “deterrence capability” in the region to “prevent a war,” the retired general added. To this end, Keane stated that Washington should increase weapons production as well as double down on arming Taipei.
According to the retired general, another important task for the US is to ensure that regional powers such as Australia, South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines are on board in case Washington faces off with Beijing militarily.
Addressing the delegates of China’s National People’s Congress last Sunday, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang emphasized Beijing’s determination to “advance the process of China’s peaceful reunification” while taking resolute steps to oppose Taiwanese independence.
The official also announced a 7.2% boost in China’s defense spending, taking it to some $230 billion.
In recent years, senior Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, have repeatedly asserted that military options are not off the table regarding Taiwan.
Taiwan has been de facto independent since 1949, when the losing side in the Chinese civil war fled to the island and established its own administration. While most countries, including the US, profess to abide by the ‘One China’ principle and do not recognize Taiwan as an independent state, the self-governing island has long enjoyed close ties with Washington.
China considers Taiwan an inalienable part of its territory which is temporarily occupied by separatists.