The chief of naval command “can’t rule out” clashing with Beijing over Taiwan as soon as this year. A senior admiral in the US Navy has warned of a potential military conflict with China. Adm. Mike Gilday urged the military to keep warships “lethal, capable and ready to win” against enemies.
Gilday, chief of naval operations, said readiness and crew training should take priority over military capacity, speaking in an interview on Wednesday with the Atlantic Council, NATO’s de facto think tank.
“What we’ve seen over the past 20 years is that [the Chinese] have delivered on every promise they’ve made earlier than they said they were going to deliver on it. So when we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window. I can’t rule it out,” he said.
His remarks came in response to a question about the so-called ‘Davidson window’. The term refers to last year’s assessment that the Chinese government may manifest its “ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role”, potentially by targeting Taiwan, within “the next six years.” It came from Admiral Phil Davidson, the outgoing Indo-Pacific Combatant Commander, during a Senate hearing.
Gilday stressed that if the US Navy fails to get funds and carry out crucial tasks including maintenance, it may soon look like the Soviet Navy in the late 1980s.
“Their ship count included ships that they kept from the First World War. They had quite a ship count, but I am not sure that many of them were relevant,” he concluded. “And I don’t want to field ships out there in a fight that are not lethal, capable and ready to win.”
China is currently holding the 20th Communist Party Congress, with over 2,200 delegates attending. President Xi Jinping mentioned the Taiwan issue during his address to the body last Sunday.
“We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary,” he pledged.
The Chinese leader warned that the use of force may become necessary due to foreign interference.
Taiwan was the last stronghold of the nationalist forces during the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. It remains self-governed, but Beijing claims sovereignty over the island and opposes any attempts by foreign nations to treat it as de facto independent.