‘Very high’ odds of war with China, US Republican warns

Michael McCaul, the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives, says conflict with China over Taiwan may happen in 2025.

China Military
Tourists look on as a Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest points to Taiwan [File: Hector Retamal/AFP]

A top Republican in the United States Congress says the odds of conflict with China over Taiwan “are very high” after a US general caused consternation with a memo suggesting war would happen in two years’ time.

In a memo dated February 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.”

Michael McCaul, the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives, on Sunday told Fox News “I hope he is wrong… I think he is right though.”

General Minihan’s views do not represent the Pentagon, but show concern at the highest levels of the US military over a possible attempt by China to exert control over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.

Both the US and Taiwan will hold presidential elections in 2024, potentially creating an opportunity for China to take military action, Minihan wrote.

If China failed to take control of Taiwan bloodlessly then “they are going to look at a military invasion in my judgement. We have to be prepared for this”, McCaul said.

He accused the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden of projecting weakness after the bungled US pullout from Afghanistan, which 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.

The White House declined to comment on McCaul’s remarks.

‘Highly unlikely’

Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he disagreed with Minihan’s assessment.

Smith told Fox News Sunday that war with China is “not only not inevitable, it is highly unlikely. We have a very dangerous situation in China. But I think generals need to be very cautious about saying we’re going to war, it’s inevitable”.

The United States needs to be in a position to deter China from military action against Taiwan, “but I’m fully confident we can avoid that conflict if we take the right approach”, Smith said.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said earlier this month that he seriously doubted that ramped-up Chinese military activity near the Taiwan Strait was 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”.

Source: Reuters