China accuses US admiral of 'hyping up' threat of Taiwan invasion
The US' top military officer in Asia-Pacific, Admiral Philip Davidson, on Tuesday said China could invade Taiwan within the next six years, as Beijing accelerates its moves to supplant American military power in Asia.
Democratic and self-ruled Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, whose leaders view the island as part of their territory and which they have vowed to one day take back.
"I worry that they're (China) accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order ... by 2050," Davidson said.
"Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years," he told a US Senate committee.
Beijing was swift to bat away the admiral's comments.
"But in essence this is the US searching for a pretext to increase its military spending, expand its forces and interfere in regional affairs."
President Joe Biden's administration has offered Taiwan cause for optimism for continued support aside from the State Department saying in January that US commitment to the island was "rock-solid".
Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the US was formally invited to Biden's inauguration, an unprecedented move since 1979.
"Guam is a target today," he warned, recalling that the Chinese military released a video simulating an attack on an island base strongly resembling US facilities in Diego Garcia and Guam.
He called on lawmakers to approve the installation on Guam of an Aegis Ashore anti-missile battery, capable of intercepting the most powerful Chinese missiles.
Guam "needs to be defended and it needs to be prepared for the threats that will come in the future," Davidson said.
In addition to other Aegis missile defence systems destined for Australia and Japan, Davidson called on lawmakers to budget for offensive armaments "to let China know that the costs of what they seek to do are too high."