A warning by a US air force commander that a military conflict with mainland China could come as early as 2025 implies the American military is gearing up combat readiness over Taiwan, according to analysts, who said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would also boost its deterrence capabilities. The latest warning was from Mike Minihan, the head of the Air Mobility Command, who said war over Taiwan might happen as soon as 2025. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, Minihan, a US four-star general, urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. “Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025,” Minihan said, adding that a presidential election on the self-ruled island next year would offer Chinese President Xi Jinping an excuse for military aggression. “It seems like the US military is using the warnings to declare its stance clearer day after day: if mainland China intends to attack Taiwan, then the Americans should react with military intervention,” said Zhu Feng, a professor of international affairs at Nanjing University. “Such warnings may encourage American pilots to become more aggressive when dealing with their Chinese counterparts on the front lines, increasing the risk of conflicts.” “The unprecedented anxiety over a war for Taiwan [in 1971] was caused by a lack of intercommunications and mutual understanding,” said Zhu, who blamed the ongoing deadlock on former US president Donald Trump’s strategy to use Taiwan as a key bargaining chip in his hardline China policy. Drones could play key role in PLA’s ‘final unification war’ on Taiwan Sino-US tensions de-escalated after former US president Richard Nixon’s Beijing visit, with the two countries resuming diplomatic ties in 1979. Minihan’s warning came just a few months after Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of US naval operations, said in October that Beijing might attack Taiwan by the end of 2022. Gilday’s time frame was based on an earlier assessment contributed to by Philip Davidson, now a retired admiral who was then head of the US Indo-Pacific Command. Earlier last year, Davidson said that a new crisis in the Taiwan Strait could take place in 2027, adding that Beijing might try to unify Taiwan with mainland China “within the next six years”. Chinese military experts and Sino-US analysts said all signs indicated that Washington’s resolve to intervene on behalf of Taiwan was becoming stronger. Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor, agreed that the risk of conflict between the Chinese and US militaries had increased as both sides have been intensifying combat readiness training, with hostilities also growing. “The US generals want to play up Beijing’s plan of ‘Taiwan reunification’ by focusing on using force to ask for bigger military budgets from Congress,” Song said, adding the American military needs a strong enemy like China. “For the PLA, the only way is to boost its combat capability in response, as the US will not let the Chinese military complete its modernisation, which is one of its means to restrain a rising China.” Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the PLA would focus on strengthening its air and sea capabilities, as well as increasing the ranges of its missiles. PLA’s attempts to deter Taiwan from closer US ties could backfire: analysts “The US military’s prediction is correct, the Taiwan Strait is the most likely area to have military conflicts, as Washington has crossed Beijing’s bottom line to encourage Taiwan independence, which in no way allows for compromise,” Li said. “Only when the PLA beefs up its deterrence capabilities can it stop the American military’s intervention on the Taiwan issue.” Tensions over the island are expected to top the agenda when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits China next month. “Both sides should try to find a way out of the deadlock over the Taiwan issue … which could trigger a major crisis in the region,” Zhu said.