Taiwan Dismisses Kissinger Prediction That China Won't Invade in 10 Years

Taiwan dismissed an optimistic prediction by Henry Kissinger this week after the former secretary of state said China was unlikely to launch a military attack in order to capture the island within the next decade.

Kissinger, 98, is a highly regarded political figure in Beijing for his role in normalizing relations between the United States and China.

As national security adviser to former President Richard Nixon in 1971, he made a secret trip to the Chinese capital which paved the way for the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1979—at the expense of Taiwan.

Kissinger told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Sunday: "I don't expect an all-out attack on Taiwan in, say, a 10-year period, which is as far as I can see."

He said it was likely that Beijing would "take measures that will weaken the Taiwanese ability to appear substantially autonomous."

The U.S., he said, would then have to decide whether it considers these hypothetical Chinese actions "a military means" or otherwise.

At a parliamentary hearing in Taipei on Monday, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu expressed disagreement.

"I don't know what confidential information he came across to lead to these comments, but the military threat China poses to Taiwan is actual and a fact," said Wu. "We cannot underestimate China's military threat."

Taiwan's most senior diplomat said American and even Australian defense officials have all warned about a "looming crisis" in the Taiwan Strait.

"To address this crisis, Taiwan must prepare," he added, "not just to prevent a crisis in three or five years, but to prepare as long as the crisis exists."

Kissinger, whose work today promotes business interests between the U.S. and China, served as head of the State Department for both Nixon and his successor, former President Gerald Ford. He was also national security adviser to both men before that.

"I believe that the ultimate joining of Taiwan and China—the ultimate creation of 'one China'—is the objective of Chinese policy as it has been since the creation of the current regime," Kissinger told Zakaria.

Kissinger, paraphrasing words uttered by Communist leader Mao Zedong to Nixon some four decades ago, said of Beijing's position on Taiwan: "We can wait maybe even 100 years. Someday we will ask for it, but we do not need to discuss it at this moment.".

During President Joe Biden's virtual summit with China's Xi Jinping last week, the Chinese president said his country would remain patient, but he warned Beijing would be "compelled to take resolute measures" should its red line be crossed.

Kissinger said Biden's job of managing relations with China has been made more challenging by domestic sentiment toward the rising Asian power.

"Everyone wants to be a China hawk. Every assumes that China is determined to dominate the world, and that that is its primary objective."

He described 1970s China as a "poor and weak and very assertive country," adding that it was now a "fairy rich, quite strong and still fairly assertive country."

The U.S. needs to stick to a principle of avoiding confrontation, Kissinger said, but that doesn't necessarily mean yielding to China. He warned that U.S.-China military competition could cause relations to "slide into a conflict" that would be easy to begin but difficult to end.

Taiwan Dismisses Henry Kissinger's China Invasion Optimism
China's President Xi Jinping (R) meets former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on November 8, 2018. THOMAS PETER/AFP via Getty Images