SABER RATTLING This file photo shows a soldier looking through binoculars during combat exercises of the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army in the waters around Taiwan on Aug. 5, 2022. XINHUA PHOTO

‘China’s invasion of Taiwan can be deterred’

WASHINGTON: A senior US official voiced optimism Thursday (Friday in Manila) that China could be deterred from invading Taiwan over this decade, a contrast to more dire predictions from Washington.

“I think they have intention. But absolutely, I think we can get to the end of this decade without them committing major aggression against Taiwan,” Ely Ratner, the top Pentagon official for Asia, said of China.

Responding to a question at a Senate hearing, Ratner said that the United States was “laser-focused on maintaining deterrence today, tomorrow and into the future.”

A senior US officer, Air Mobility Command chief General Mike Minihan, recently made waves by predicting war with China.

“I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan wrote in a memo to forces on readiness.

Minihan pointed to the 2024 elections in Taiwan and said that China could view the United States as distracted due to its own presidential elections.

But Ratner, asked about the memo, said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the rest of the Defense Department “do not believe that an invasion of Taiwan is imminent or inevitable.”

China claims Taiwan, a self-governing democracy and major technological hub, and has not ruled out force to “reunify” with the island.

The United States supplies weapons to Taiwan, and President Joe Biden has gone further by signaling a willingness to commit US troops to a Chinese invasion.

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