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U.S. Army Commander doubts Xi Jinping's plans to seize Taiwan

U.S. Army Commander doubts Xi Jinping's plans to seize Taiwan General Charles Brown (Gett Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The head of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Charles Brown, casts doubt on Beijing's plans to attempt a military takeover of Taiwan. These comments come as tensions rise over the island just before President Joe Biden's meeting with the Chinese leader, Bloomberg reports.

"I do think that Xi Jinping doesn’t necessarily want to take Taiwan by force. He will try to use other ways to do this," General Brown said in Tokyo.

Brown added that he wrote to his Chinese counterpart, General Liu Zhenli, to establish lines of communication but hadn’t yet interacted with him directly. "If the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely engage," Brown said.

It is unclear when Brown sent the letter. In September, he was confirmed as the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Taiwan has become a major point of contention in Sino-American relations. Over the past year, Beijing has conducted large-scale military exercises around the island twice, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has met with high-ranking American lawmakers, and Biden has repeatedly stated that the U.S. will defend the democracy of the 23 million people on the island if attacked.

Both countries have recently accused each other of military provocations in the South China Sea, south of Taiwan, a region that Beijing considers its own. These actions escalate the risk of conflict. The situation is compounded by China severing key military communications with the U.S. after former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's spokesperson visited Taiwan in August 2022.

While China often employs fiery rhetoric regarding Taiwan and does not rule out the use of force to bring the island under its control, it claims to prefer other means. In March, former Premier Li Keqiang stated that his country should promote the process of peaceful reunification with China.

Official sources in Taipei have expressed doubts about China's invasion plans in the near future, particularly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

The Biden-Xi Jinping meeting

Taiwan is likely to be among the topics discussed when Xi and Biden meet at the anticipated Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco next week. The leaders' face-to-face negotiations will be the first of the year.

Both countries have reasons to improve relations. China wants to focus on its economic recovery, while Biden prepares for a tough reelection campaign.

Speaking at a roundtable with journalists, Brown also stated that the U.S. has not withdrawn military assets from the region since the crisis erupted in Gaza on October 7.

"All the capabilities we have here in the Indo-Pacific under the Indo-Pacific command, we have not touched that capability while we’re focused not only on what’s happening in Europe but the same in the Middle East," he said.

Read more about the meeting of the leaders of the United States and China in RBC-Ukraine's article "Heading toward convergence: Why Biden-Xi Jinping talks matter and what Ukraine can expect".