U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) said Sunday the odds of a conflict with China by 2025 “are very high” after a four-star Air Force General warned officers that he sees a war on the horizon over Taiwan.
McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” he agreed with the recent statement made by Air Force General Mike Minihan, which noted the military official believes U.S. forces “will fight in 2025.”
“I hope he’s wrong . . .” McCaul said. “I think he’s right, though, unfortunately.”
The top GOP lawmaker said China could look at a military invasion of Taiwan if President Xi Jinping of the Chinese Communist Party fails to influence Taiwan’s presidential election in 2024, which takes place a year from today, and further China’s efforts on its so-called “reunification” with the island.
Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, has been independently governed by China since 1949. China holds a “One China” policy, asserting that Taiwan is a part of China.
“We have to be prepared for this,” McCaul said. “And it could happen … as long as Biden is in office — projecting weakness as he did with Afghanistan that led to Putin invading Ukraine — that the odds are very high we could see a conflict with China and Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.”
Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a report last week, which follows a CSIS wargame scenario that pointed out that in a conflict with China, U.S. arms, including long-range, precision-guided munitions, could run empty in one week.
Jones explained his assessment to The Wall Street Journal, which noted the U.S. support for Ukraine in its war with Russia had drained the U.S. stockpile of weapons. As a result, Pentagon officials reassessed its quantity of munitions in December, illustrating the underinvestment in munitions that had been going on for years.
“The bottom line is the defense industrial base, in my judgment, is not prepared for the security environment that now exists,” Jones told Journal, adding that the defense industry is currently “better suited to a peacetime environment.”
“How do you effectively deter if you don’t have sufficient stockpiles of the kinds of munitions you’re going to need for a China-Taiwan Strait kind of scenario?” Jones said.
Rep. McCaul agreed the CSIS scenario had left him feeling “very” worried.
“Our defense industrial base is broken,” he said, adding he signed off on all foreign military weapons sales three years ago that have yet to go into Taiwan.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) countered his colleague’s possible war with China narrative on “Fox News Sunday,” saying the conflict is “highly unlikely.”
Smith further suggested that generals take caution by not signaling to the world “the U.S. is going to war with China.”
“Anything is possible,” Smith said. “I’m really worried when anyone starts talking about war with China being inevitable.”
Smith agreed with McCaul that the U.S. military stockpile of supplies puts the military forces in a vulnerable position in the face of a possible conflict with China.
“This is a huge problem,” Smith said. “We don’t have the industrial base, and we don’t have the ability to ramp up that industrial base.”
U.S. Department of Defense officials told NBC, who first published the memo from the Air Force General, that such comments “are not representative of the department’s view on China.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin disregarded speculation that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was imminent.
“What we’re seeing recently, is some very provocative behavior on the part of China’s forces and their attempt to re-establish a new normal,” Austin said. “But whether or not that means that an invasion is imminent — I seriously doubt that.”
Virginia Kruta and Hank Berrien contributed to this report.