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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley urged Beijing to learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he called a “tremendous strategic miscalculation”. Photo: AP

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
A top US military officer pledged to support Taiwan militarily while warning Beijing to learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The remarks were made by General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during an event in New York on Wednesday.
“The US is committed through the Taiwan Relations Act, and President Biden has said on many occasions recently that the United States will continue to support Taiwan,” Milley said.

“We will support them militarily … We would try to help train them and equip them.”

US needs to ‘act with sincerity’ to restart China defence talks, analysts say

Beijing was angered when media reported last year that a US special operations unit and a contingent of marines had secretly been operating in Taiwan to train military forces there.
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait escalated after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi travelled to Taipei in early August. In response, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched unprecedented live-fire military exercises around the island.

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.”


Inside the Taiwanese navy’s ‘hell week’, where less than half the participants make it through

Inside the Taiwanese navy’s ‘hell week’, where less than half the participants make it through
Milley said it would be hard for Beijing to carry out an amphibious attack across the Taiwan Strait.

“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.

During the twice-a-decade Communist Party national congress in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing would do its utmost to achieve peaceful reunification with Taiwan but would never renounce the use of force in resolving “the Taiwan question”.
Xi told the congress that the PLA should reach its target of becoming a world-class military capable of winning “regional wars”.

Milley said China wanted to achieve global military superiority by the middle of the century and regional superiority by 2027.

Beijing was angered by reports last year that a US special-operations unit and marines were secretly training military forces in Taiwan. Photo: Reuters
Senior American officials have recently called for the US Navy to step up preparations for a PLA attack on Taiwan as soon as this year.

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.”

How Xi’s ‘no to nukes in Ukraine’ statement aligns with Russian foreign policy

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.