US defence secretary warns of China staging ‘rehearsals’ for Taiwan attack

Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, has issued a warning that a number of drills being carried out by the Chinese military are rehearsals for operations against Taiwan.

The drills include: air incursions by fighter jets, bombers and other planes close to Taiwan.

“It looks a lot like them exploring their true capabilities and sure it looks a lot like rehearsals,” Austin said in a speech on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

While Austin did not explicitly say that China is readying itself for a conflict in the near future, its air force has been growing in size, along with the frequency of missions into Taiwan’s “air defence identification zone”.

This signal of intention, coupled with major advances in technology by the People’s Liberation Army, is raising alarm bells over China’s ambitions with regards to Taiwan, a territory over which it claims sovereignty.

Some with expertise on the matter are of the view that China’s expansion of its military capabilities are designed with the purpose of making any sort of intervention by America more difficult.

The current US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke of the “terrible consequences” of a Chinese invasion, while reaffirming America’s commitment to protecting Taiwan.

“We’re committed to helping Taiwan develop and maintain the capability to defend itself,” Blinken said. “Nobody wants to see this develop into a conflict in this region, so we’re going to do everything in our power to help prevent conflict and dial down the temperature whenever possible.”

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