Top US general vows military support for Taiwan, warns Beijing against conflict
- Mark Milley says United States ‘would try to help’ train and equip Taiwanese soldiers and urges mainland China to learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- PLA likely ‘evaluating’ and ‘recalculating’ plans to take the island as amphibious attack would be difficult, he says
“We will support them militarily … We would try to help train them and equip them.”
Milley said it remained unclear whether China had plans for an imminent invasion, but he urged Beijing to learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“A lesson that comes out of Ukraine for China is that war on paper and real war are two different things. And what they have seen was a tremendous strategic miscalculation,” he said.
“I think President Xi is taking a step back and … he’s evaluating the situation.”
“That’s really difficult,” he said. “It’s really hard. And I think they’re coming to realise that and they’re probably evaluating the situation and recalculating what they might do.”
The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which governs US ties with Taipei, requires the United States to ensure the self-ruled island has the resources for self-defence and to prevent any unilateral change of status by Beijing. But it does not require the US to defend the island militarily.
Milley said China wanted to achieve global military superiority by the middle of the century and regional superiority by 2027.
Milley noted that while Xi has said he wants the PLA to be prepared for combat by 2027, telling the military to be ready and making the decision to do battle “are two different things”.
“We’re fine with competition – no problem,” he added. “But if China wants conflict, then that would be a really bad choice for China.”
Milley said Russia made a “huge strategic miscalculation” by invading Ukraine and would pay for its mistake “enormously” for years to come.
He said Russia had failed strategically and operationally and lost a tremendous amount of military capability while underestimating the Ukrainian people.
He reaffirmed that the US would continue to support Ukraine and called on Russia to come to the negotiating table.
“When there’s an opportunity to negotiate when peace can be achieved, seize the moment,” Milley said.