EXCLUSIVE: House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher told Fox News Digital Tuesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping is “deadly serious” about invading Taiwan, saying the recent increase in the People’s Liberation Army’s budget makes his ambitions “abundantly clear.”
China on Sunday, announced a 7.2% increase in its defense budget for the upcoming year for the PLA, which is the military wing of the Chinese Communist Party, and consists of approximately 2-million members.
In U.S. dollars, China’s military budget now sits at $230 billion, up nearly $16 billion from its budget in 2022, and nearly doubled since 2013. The spending increase comes as the U.S. warns of a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the near future. U.S. officials have also warned China against sending lethal aid to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Republicans, as well as current and former national security officials, have warned that China intends to invade Taiwan, with some warning China had been emboldened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Xi Jinping has made it clear that he has aggressive designs on Taiwan, by force if necessary,” Gallagher told Fox News Digital Tuesday. “As Xi yet again expands the People’s Liberation Army’s budget, it should be abundantly clear, especially in the aftermath of Ukraine, that he is deadly serious.”
Gallagher added: “America and our allies need to put hard power in place to protect Taiwan and deter an invasion before it is too late, including by providing Indo-Pacific Command with the resources it needs, moving quickly to clear the foreign military sales backlog to Taiwan, and ensuring that the CCP’s coercive economic tactics do not undermine our ability to protect American interests at home and abroad.”
The announcement of an expansion of the PLA budget came with a speech by Premier Li Kequiang, in which he addressed the matter of Taiwan.
China has claimed Taiwan as its territory and has said it will be brought under control by force if necessary.
Li said the government had followed the party’s “overall policy for the new era on resolving the Taiwan question and resolutely fought against separatism and countered interference.”
Meanwhile, Gallagher had previously warned, during an interview with Fox News Digital, that a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan could “potentially bring us into kinetic confrontation with China.”
“I believe time is not on our side and that we have entered the window of maximum danger,” Gallagher told Fox News Digital.
Fox News reported last summer that China could invade Taiwan within the next 18 months, according to current and former officials familiar with U.S. and allied intelligence — specifically through amphibious assault and military invasion.
And CIA Director William Burns stated last month that Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered his military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.
“We know as a matter of intelligence [Xi] has instructed the People’s Liberation Army to be ready by 2027 to conduct a successful invasion,” Burns said on Feb. 3. “Now, that does not mean that he’s decided to conduct an invasion in 2027, or any other year, but it’s a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition.”
Tensions spiked over Taiwan in August 2022 after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governed island. China expressed outrage at the move, despite U.S. lawmakers frequently visiting the island.
The Chinese military conducted live-fire drills surrounding Taiwan for weeks following Pelosi’s visit, an apparent simulation of an invasion.
The White House said communication channels between the United States and Chinese militaries have been closed since Pelosi’s visit.
Meanwhile, Gallagher and several other congressional lawmakers have recently traveled to Taiwan, telling Fox News Digital that they believe sending congressional delegations to Taiwan could “improve the chances of peace” in the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwanese officials welcome their visits, despite challenges they create with China.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom and The Associated Press contributed to this report.