The head of Taiwan’s intelligence agency warned that moves by Chinese President Xi Jinping to surround himself with a group of like-minded officials increased the risk of conflict over the island, the epicenter of tensions. US-China direct.
(Bloomberg) — Taiwan’s intelligence chief warned that moves by Chinese President Xi Jinping to surround himself with a group of like-minded officials increased the risk of conflict over the island. US-China tensions.
Tsai Ming-yen, director general of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau, recently told lawmakers that misleading the black box into being Xi’s government means that Taiwan is increasingly exchanging information with the spies. real-time “Five Eyes” messages to understand China’s military plans. .
In an interview with Bloomberg, Tsai said that Xi “doesn’t allow any other kind of voice in the Chinese political system,” citing personnel moves at key Communist Party meetings. production in the past year. That means “the risk of making a wrong decision becomes much higher.”
Rising tensions over the Taiwan issue have prompted a flurry of diplomatic measures across the Indo-Pacific by both Beijing and Washington. Xi’s government accuses the United States of building alliances to encircle China, while the United States says Beijing’s broad claims to the South China Sea and military buildup against Taiwan undermine weak security in the region.
Tsai said it’s important to work with other partners who have important intelligence to share.
“We share some information with our international friends,” Tsai, who is not related to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, told Bloomberg ahead of his presentation to lawmakers. “They also share information with us. So we have a form of cooperation with our international friends on China’s military moves.”
The director of intelligence declined to provide details on conversations or contingency plans but said work was continuing and was intended to prevent any conflict. The “Five Eyes” bloc includes the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
“Putting the costs down for Xi in a unified coalition” could be a very important way for us to have some influence over policy thinking or even policy action, he said. of China”.
Recognizing the growing threat from China, Taiwan extended mandatory military service for its citizens, seeking satellite-powered communications systems in the event of an attack, and completed New weapons deals include anti-ship missiles and F-16 jets.
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“They are enhancing their capabilities,” Tsai said, adding that China’s recent large-scale exercises around Taiwan are “a kind of exercise for other military options.” together”. He said, Taipei has beefed up its defenses to ensure that it is difficult for China to “swallow Taiwan”.
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Beijing has long claimed Taiwan as part of China, and Xi’s government considers the self-ruled island a national security priority. Although Beijing has declared no plans to invade, Beijing has not ruled out the possibility of using force to retake the island.
The US says Mr. Xi wants the People’s Liberation Army to be ready to strike by 2027, but top US officials added that they do not see any invasion imminent and have not said they expect it. an attack later.
“I think people are guessing” on the timelines, Admiral John Aquilino, head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, testified before Congress last month.
However, Xi’s rule-breaking third term as president has fueled speculation that he will continue to ramp up pressure to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland. At last year’s Communist Party Congress and at this year’s National People’s Congress, Mr. Xi tightened control over key party and government roles, ensuring he was surrounded by many close allies. than.
That’s not to say that Xi only listens to one point of view. China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong has shown he can turn key issues when necessary, such as when protests quickly emerged against the nation’s Covid 0 policy. joined him late last year, or when his envoy in Paris questioned the sovereignty of the former Soviet states. .
Tsai, a former diplomat who assumed his role in February, declined to consider a time frame for any potential invasion but noted the importance of 2027 to Xi in terms of politics and his military modernization efforts.
“They hope they can be ready, in terms of their capabilities, within that year,” he said of the PLA, adding that Xi may also be aiming for a fourth presidential term that year. .
“I’m not saying that in that year, China will definitely do something,” Tsai said. “But if you look at China’s long-term military modernization program and the political implications of 2027, we need to be on high alert.”
Whether and when the Chinese leader decides to take any action on Taiwan depends not only on his military, Tsai added. Xi will likely be preoccupied with domestic issues, including ensuring China’s economy recovers from the Covid years, he said.
“Xi is facing uncertainty in Chinese society, economically and socially,” Tsai said. “I think that will consume a lot of Xi Jinping’s energy in the months or years to come.”
—With support from Miaojung Lin.
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