Feb 26, 2023 - World

CIA director: China has doubts whether it could accomplish invasion of Taiwan

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his military leaders likely have some doubts as to whether China could accomplish a successful invasion of Taiwan after witnessing the trajectory of Russia's war in Ukraine, CIA Director Bill Burns told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Driving the news: While U.S. intelligence indicates that Xi has instructed his country's army to be ready for a potential invasion by 2027, Burns stressed that a decision has not yet been made.

  • "I think we need to take very seriously Xi's ambitions with regard to ultimately controlling Taiwan. That doesn't, however, in our view, mean that a military conflict is inevitable," he added.

State of play: Tensions between China and Taiwan surged in 2022, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning in October that China could be accelerating plans to seize the self-governing island.

  • "President Xi and his military leadership have doubts today about whether they could accomplish that invasion. I think as they've looked at Putin's experience in Ukraine, that's probably reinforced some of those doubts as well," Burns said.
  • Burns noted that Russia has faced vast casualties, "cumulative economic damage," as well as "huge reputational damage" as a result of its war in Ukraine.
  • "There's no foreign leader who's watched more carefully Vladimir Putin's experience in Ukraine, the evolution of the war, than Xi Jinping has," Burns said.
  • "I think, in many ways, he's been unsettled and sobered by what he's seen," Burns added.

The big picture: The Chinese government has repeatedly vowed to take control of Taiwan, by force if necessary, and it reacts furiously to any gesture that seems to treat Taiwan as an independent state.

  • President Biden has vowed on more than one occasion that American forces would defend Taiwan if China's military invaded the self-governing island
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