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Admiral John Aquilino has warned of a dramatic scale-up in China’s military and nuclear arsenal, the likes of which haven’t been seen since World War II.

According to Aquilino, China’s defense budget has seen a substantial increase, rising to over $223 billion, despite the country’s economic hurdles. Over his tenure, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has seen a considerable boost, including the addition of more than 400 fighter aircraft and over 20 significant warships, as well as a doubling of its ballistic and cruise missile capabilities since 2020.

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Aquilino stated, “All indications point to the PLA meeting President Xi Jinping’s directive to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027. The PLA’s actions indicate their ability to meet Xi’s preferred time-line to unify Taiwan with mainland China by force if directed.” He also noted the PLA’s rehearsal of various operational tasks against Taiwan, including simulations of encircling maneuvers through maritime and air blockades.

Admiral Aquilino also addressed China strengthening ties with Russia, which is through both economic and security support. He said, “It should be concerning to the whole globe.”

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian criticized the comments, asserting, “Taiwan is China’s internal affair,” and condemned efforts to “hype up the China-threat narrative” as a means to escalate regional tensions and promote confrontation.

As the debate over China’s intentions for Taiwan continues, the US intelligence community believes that while China is determined to bring Taiwan under its control, it does not favor military conflict.


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