December 2, 2022

The US defense secretary does not see an imminent Chinese invasion of Taiwan

File photo: US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin

By Doina Siaku

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday that he did not see an imminent Chinese invasion of Taiwan, but that China was trying to establish a “new normal” with its military operations around the island.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August angered China, which has since begun conducting military exercises near the island. These activities continue, albeit to a lesser extent.

“I don’t see an immediate invasion,” Austin said in an interview broadcast by CNN.

“What we’re seeing is China moving to establish what it’s calling a new normal. Increased activity — we’ve seen many crossings of the center line by your aircraft in the Taiwan Strait. That number has grown over time. We’ve seen more activity by their surface and water vessels in and around Taiwan.

The US and its allies respond to these exercises and continue to navigate the region. A US Navy frigate and a Canadian warship made a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on September 20.

“The United States will continue to work with our allies and partners to ensure that we maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Austin said in a taped interview Friday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

(By Toina Chiagu)