Bill Burns says Beijing likely to reconsider timing of any invasion rather than whether to invade amid Russia’s ‘unsettling’ war on Ukraine.
The head of the CIA has warned that China appears determined on using force in Taiwan, with Russia’s experience in Ukraine only affecting Beijing’s calculations on when and how – rather than whether – to invade.
Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns said on Wednesday that China probably saw in Ukraine that “you don’t achieve quick, decisive victories with underwhelming force”.
China claims the self-ruled territory of Taiwan, where nationalists established a government in 1948 after losing power to the communists in the country’s civil war, is part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Burns said that China was “unsettled” when looking at Russia’s five-month-old war in Ukraine, which he characterised as a “strategic failure” for President Vladimir Putin because he had hoped to topple the Kyiv government within a week.
“Our sense is that it probably affects less the question of whether the Chinese leadership might choose some years down the road to use force to control Taiwan, but how and when they would do it,” Burns said.
Burns comments come amid continued tension between Washington and Beijing over a slew of issues including trade and Taiwan, as United States President Joe Biden revealed plans for a call with President Xi Jinping – the first between the two leaders in four months.
“I think I’ll be talking to President Xi within the next 10 days,” Biden told reporters as he returned from the state of Massachusetts.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES