Despite the constant hype around a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley believes China has a "ways to go" when it comes to developing the capability to take the island.
"My assessment, in terms of capability, I think China has a ways to go to develop the actual, no-kidding capability to conduct military operations to seize through military means the entire island of Taiwan, if they wanted to do that," Milley told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
Milley said he doesn’t believe China will try to take Taiwan anytime soon. "I think there’s little intent right now or motivation to do it militarily. There’s no reason to do it militarily, and they know that. So, I think the probability is probably low, in the immediate, near-term future," he said.
Also on Thursday, a State Department official touted the US and Taiwan’s "porcupine" strategy. The idea of the "porcupine" approach is to continue arming Taiwan, so the cost for China to take the island by force becomes greater and greater. This strategy bodes well for the US arms industry.
Taiwan recently signed contracts worth $1.75 billion for Lockheed Martin-made rocket system and a Boeing-made missile system. The weapons sale was approved by the Trump administration last October.
The government of Taiwan and US weapons makers fund many of the same think tanks in Washington. For example, the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank gets funding from most of the US’s major arms makers as well as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington.
The Pentagon recently finished a 100-day task force review of its China policy that was led by Ely Ratner, a former CNAS employee who was appointed as a special advisor to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the former Raytheon employee. While most of the task force’s recommendations were kept classified, it’s safe to assume that it called to continue the tradition of arming Taiwan.