Top U.S. Gen. Mark Milley says China should take note of Russia's failures in Ukraine and that attacking Taiwan would be a "mistake."
"For someone who has a military that hasn't fought in combat since fighting the Vietnamese in 1979, they would be playing a very, very dangerous game to cross the [Taiwan] Strait and invade the island of Taiwan," Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday. "They don't have the experience, the background to do it. They haven't trained to it yet."
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made "reunification" with Taiwan his primary goal, though Taiwan considers itself a self-ruled island and has been governed independently since 1949. Tensions are rising as Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on Taipei.
Milley said Xi was a "rational actor," and said he did not think China would invade Taiwan.
"I think he evaluates things on cost-benefit risk, and I think that he would conclude that an attack on Taiwan in the near future [would] be an excessive amount of risk and would end in a strategic debacle for the Chinese military," Milley said of Xi. "It would throw off their 'China Dream' of being the number one economic and military power."
Milley also said Russia's unsuccessful invasion of Ukraine has taught the Chinese "lessons" about a potential invasion of Taiwan.
"President Xi and the Chinese military are learning … that war on paper is a whole lot different than real war," Milley said. "And when blood is spilled, and people die in real tanks being blown up, things are a little bit different."
Still, Milley said he could be "wrong."
"A incident could happen, some sort of political thing could happen in a moment in time and all of the decisions would change very, very rapidly," Milley said. "But I think that the Chinese would be high-risk to take on an operation like that, and I think it would be unwise, a political mistake, a geopolitical mistake [and] a strategic mistake."
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