The Navy admiral nominated to lead the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command told a Senate committee this week that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is a bigger concern than threats involving North Korea or Russia.
Adm. John Aquilino cited studies showing China might launch a military strike against Taiwan sometime between now and 2045.
“My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think,” he told the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Aquilino said if China is allowed to take over Taiwan, it would be a severe blow to the credibility of the United States as a strong and trusted partner in the region.
He said it will take all elements of U.S. power, along with the help of allies in the region, to meet this threat.
San Diego-based warships and Marine units frequently patrol the waters around Taiwan and in the nearby South China Sea, which China claims as its own.
The United States also leads major training exercises with allies in the region, including Australia, Japan and India, such as the biennial RIMPAC.
Aquilino noted that China’s only partner in the region is North Korea, although China and Russia sometimes conduct joint military exercises.