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US senior general hypes war with China in 2025, 'reckless and provocative'

《环球时报·英文版》 2023-01-28

A four-star US air force general predicted that the US and China will be at war in two years, most likely over the Taiwan region, and called on troops under his command to pursue battle readiness in a recently disclosed memo, a move Chinese experts on Saturday decried as a reckless and provocative hyping of China threats, which would inflame tensions and deepen strategic mistrust between the US and China when ties are already at a low ebb.

It cannot be ruled out that the move may serve as a way of putting pressure on China to gain more leverage ahead of a potential China trip by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, analysts said.

In the memo, first obtained by NBC News on Friday but dated February 1, General Michael Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command (AMC), said that my gut tells me will fight in 2025, as both US and Taiwan regional authorities will have elections in 2024, and the US will be distracted, which gives the Chinese mainland an opportunity.

Minihan listed his goals of military preparation for a fight with China to his soldiers in the AMC, including building a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain, according to an NBC report.

Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Saturday that it is fairly provocative and reckless for a senior US general to make such confrontational remarks while ties between Beijing and Washington are at low ebb.

Such remarks will only exacerbate the mistrust between China and the US strategically, and harm bilateral ties, Xin noted.

Despite Air Force spokeswoman Hope Cronin verifying the memo's authenticity, a US defense official who requested anonymity said that Minihan's comments are not representative of the department's view on China, according to the Washington Post report. Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said on Friday that US is working with allies and partners to preserve a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.

Top US political leaders are aware that playing up such imprudent remarks will cause further damage to China-US relations, and even make China-US hostility become a self-fulfilling prophecy, Xin said.

The Pentagon official's attitude shows that they know the importance of maintaining the stability of China-US relations, he added.

Experts said it cannot be ruled out that the US is trying to deter China by using the irritation-clarification and de-escalation approach, which occurred in Biden's several slips of tongue over the confirmation of US military interference in the Taiwan question. Given the provocation came before Blinken's possible China tour in February, some analysts believe that the US intends on using such military leverage for more gains in the bilateral discussions.

Chinese military expert Song Zhongping believes that by hyping the threats posed by China's military, the US general is probably trying to get more military spending for his command.

Although the Pentagon strives for balance in its budget allocation, commands will always ask for more military expenditure, including for training and equipment, to increase combat effectiveness, Song told the Global Times on Saturday.

The AMC, according to US media, has nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes and is responsible for transport and refueling.

Public information shows that before taking over at the AMC in 2021, Minihan served in a variety of Pacific-related roles since 2013, including as deputy commander of Indo-Pacific Command from September 2019 to August 2021.

Analysts said that military personnel are generally cautious and avoid being imprudent when it comes to the risks of a real war because they are, after all, the ones who have to bleed on the frontline. But there are always some super-hawkish war maniacs in the military, especially at a time when many in the US are trying to win support by joining a race to show a tougher stance on China.