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China on course to be prepared for an invasion of Taiwan by 2027: US

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According to testimony from a top US admiral, China is expanding its military and nuclear arsenal at a rate not seen since World War II, and all indications point to the country keeping to its goal of being prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027.

Admiral John Aquilino, the head of Indo-Pacific Command, testified in prepared form before the US House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that despite Beijing's economic difficulties, the country's official defense budget has climbed by 16% in recent years to more than $223 billion.

He said that the People's Liberation Army, or PLA, has added more than 400 fighter planes and more than 20 significant vessels in the three years since he assumed command. Since 2020, it has also increased the number of ballistic and cruise missiles in its inventory, he claimed.

"All indications point to the PLA meeting President Xi Jinping's directive to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027," Aquilino stated. "The PLA's actions indicated their ability to meet Xi's preferred time-line to unify Taiwan with mainland China by force if directed."

According to Aquilino, the Chinese military has also been practicing a number of exercises related to operations against Taiwan, such as modeling an encirclement with a naval and aerial blockade. Xi's ambitions for Taiwan have been the subject of intense dispute among US lawmakers, bureaucrats, and military commanders, particularly in light of his goal for Taiwan's military to become a "world-class force" by 2027. Aquilino stated in his testimony about a year ago that "everyone's guessing" about the plans of the Chinese army. In the meanwhile, China is intent to subjugate the self-governing island, but the US intelligence community believes that Beijing does not wish to engage in a military confrontation over Taiwan.

The Republican representative from Alabama who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Mike Rogers, claimed that China's "unprecedented level of defense spending is paying off." "The PLA is deploying cutting-edge equipment, such as fifth-generation warplanes and hypersonic weapons. With a 340-ship fleet that includes a modern aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, they can project power far into the Pacific. Concerning China's alliance with Russia is the fact that, according to Rogers, China gave Russian President Vladimir Putin financial and military support for his invasion of Ukraine. China's alliance with Russia is a reaction to US partnerships both domestically and internationally in the Pacific. According to Aquilino, "it should be concerning to the whole globe."