Washington has not changed its assessment on China's timeline for potentially taking Taiwan militarily, a senior Pentagon official said on Monday, sticking by previous statements that Beijing would not try to take it in the next two years.
China announced new military drills around Taiwan on Monday, drawing concern from U.S. President Joe Biden, a day after the scheduled end of Beijing's largest military exercises in the area to protest last week's visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Asked if the Pentagon's assessment that China would not try to retake Taiwan militarily in the next two years had changed since Pelosi's trip, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said: "No."
"Clearly the PRC (People's Republic of China) is trying to coerce Taiwan, clearly they're trying to coerce the international community and all I'll say is we're not going to take the bait and it's not going to work," Kahl said.
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In November, the top U.S. general said China was unlikely to try to militarily seize Taiwan in the next couple of years, even as its military develops capabilities that would enable forcibly retaking the self-ruled island.
Officials have privately said that they do not believe China will even be militarily ready to fully take Taiwan by 2027.
"Clearly what they're trying to do is salami slice their way into a new status quo," Kahl said.
Pelosi's visit infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, as well as by ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington, including on military and climate change issues.
Taiwan's foreign ministry said China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own, was deliberately creating crises. It demanded Beijing "pull back from the edge."
Kahl said the U.S. military would carry out passages through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.