WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) – A top Republican in the U.S. Congress said on Sunday the odds of conflict with China over Taiwan “are very high,” after a U.S. general caused consternation with a memo that warned the United States would fight China in the next two years.
In a memo dated Feb. 1 but released on Friday, General Mike Minihan, who heads the Air Mobility Command, wrote to the leadership of its roughly 110,000 members saying, “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”
“I hope he is wrong … I think he is right though,” Mike McCaul, the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, told Fox News Sunday.
The general’s views do not represent the Pentagon but show concern at the highest levels of the U.S. military over a possible attempt by China to exert control over Taiwan, which China claims as a territory.
Both the United States and Taiwan will hold presidential elections in 2024, potentially creating an opportunity for China to take military action, Minihan wrote.
McCaul said that if China failed to take control of Taiwan bloodlessly then “they are going to look at a military invasion in my judgment. We have to be prepared for this.”
He accused the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden of projecting weakness, after the bungled pullout from Afghanistan, that could make war with China more likely.
“The odds are very high that we could see a conflict with China and Taiwan and the Indo Pacific,” McCaul said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said earlier this month he seriously doubted that ramped up Chinese military activities near the Taiwan Strait were a sign of an imminent invasion of the island by Beijing.
On Saturday, a Pentagon official said the general’s comments were “not representative of the department’s view on China.”
Reporting By Ross Colvin
Editing by Nick Zieminski
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