Fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would spur China to take a similar approach to Taiwan do not appear to be playing out, at least not yet, according to the top U.S. intelligence official.
Chinese President Xi Jinping “quite clearly sees reunification of Taiwan as a goal,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told an audience in Washington late Wednesday, adding Xi “continues to prefer doing that peacefully as opposed to using military force.”
“There are not indications that he is currently intending to take Taiwan by military force even as he is planning for the potential,” Haines added.
Senior U.S. defense officials have repeatedly warned about China’s increasing aggressiveness in and around the South China Sea and Taiwan, and a military buildup larger than any seen since World War II.
Those concerns were echoed Wednesday by NATO, which accused Beijing of “bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan.”
“China is not our adversary, but we must be clear-eyed about the challenges it represents,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the alliance’s summit in Madrid.
“We see a deepening strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing, and China’s growing assertiveness and its coercive policies have consequences for the security of allies and our partners,” he added.
The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday placed export restrictions on five Chinese companies for providing military-related support to Russia.
Asked about the restrictions, Haines echoed the concerns.
“They’ve tried very hard to quite publicly not take a critical stance of Russia,” she said. “Yet at the same time what we do see is that they are helping the Russians in a variety of ways behind the scenes.”
Other top U.S. officials have previously said there has been no evidence of direct Chinese government support for Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine.