CIA director: China readying for Taiwan invasion by 2027

Xi wants China’s military ready to invade within four years, CIA Director William Burns said.
Alex Willemyns for RFA
2023.02.03
Washington
CIA director: China readying for Taiwan invasion by 2027 In this July 8, 2022 photo, President Joe Biden, left, talks with Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, right, as he is introduced to speak at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to be able invade Taiwan within the next four years, CIA director William Burns said Thursday.

Speaking at Georgetown University, Burns said U.S. authorities knew “as a matter of intelligence” that Xi had ordered his country’s military to be ready to invade the democratic island by 2027.

“Now, that does not mean that he's decided to conduct an invasion in 2027, or any other year, but it's a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition,” the CIA director said. “I wouldn't underestimate President Xi's ambitions with regard to Taiwan.”

ENG_CHN_TaiwanInvasion_02032023 102.jpg
In this Dec. 17, 2019 photo provided by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese honor guard raise the Chinese flag during the commissioning ceremony of China's Shandong aircraft carrier at a naval port in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province. (Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)

The estimate is in line with that offered by the now-retired commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Philip Davidson, who told the Senate in 2021 that he saw a threat “in the next six years,” a statement he reiterated to a Japanese newspaper last month

It’s also the latest in an increasingly long line of estimates from American officials about when China might launch an invasion. 

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan last week became the latest senior military official to offer his own estimate, writing in a leaked memo: “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.” The estimate was shared by Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, who said “I think he’s right.”

Burns, though, also noted that Xi was likely “surprised and unsettled” by the drawn-out aftermath of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and would be trying to draw lessons from Moscow’s failures before launching any invasions of his own.

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