- China’s likelihood of invading Taiwan in the next decade is “more than 50%,” Matthew Pottinger said.
- Pottinger previously said an invasion depends on how long Chinese leader Xi Jinping stays in power.
- Pottinger served for two years as one of the Trump administration’s top Asia security advisers.
China is more than 50% likely to invade Taiwan in the next 10 years, said Matthew Pottinger, who served as deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration.
Securing Taiwan is vital to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s goal of rejuvenating his country, and the probability of Beijing trying to take Taiwan by force is “more than 50% in the next decade,” Pottinger told Japanese outlet Kyodo News in an article published on Wednesday.
Pottinger, a US Marine veteran and a former China reporter for Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, worked as deputy national security adviser from September 2019 to January 2021. He was the Trump administration’s top adviser on China and North Korea at the time and one of its longest-serving aides.
In a March interview with The Washington Post, he tied China’s likelihood of invading Taiwan to the predicted timeline for Xi’s hold on power.
“I suspect that he is going to make this his legacy achievement,” Pottinger told The Post.
The former US adviser said he wasn’t sure “what that means in terms of timing” but suspected that Xi is looking to stay in power for another 10 years.
The Chinese leader secured an unprecedented third term for the top position in October and has yet to name a successor — leading observers to predict he’ll gun for a fourth term and govern for another decade in total.
And Xi appears to be quietly preparing for conflict with Taiwan, building air raid shelters and field hospitals along the Taiwan Strait, passing new laws enabling the military to bolster troop reserves, and priming the Chinese people for war with “strident language,” Pottinger told The Post.
His comments come as US-China relations continue to strain and as top US lawmakers strengthen ties with Taiwan.
Meanwhile, several leaked US intelligence documents appeared to show gaping vulnerabilities in Taiwan’s air defenses, The Washington Post reported.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have flared in the last few months over issues like a Chinese surveillance balloon floating over the US and congressional pressure on the Chinese-made platform TikTok over concerns it could spy on Americans.
In February, State Secretary Antony Blinken warned that China was considering sending weapons and ammo to Russia for its war in Ukraine but did not provide evidence to supplement the claim. China vehemently denied the assertion.
In his recent interview with Kyodo News, Pottinger said he doubts China will directly supply weapons to Russia and that Xi’s administration knows such a move would cross a red line.
Providing arms to Moscow would throw China’s relationship with the US and Europe into disarray and cripple the Chinese economy, he said.
Pottinger typically holds hard-line stances on China. When testifying before Congress about Sino-American relations in February, he characterized Beijing as “stealthily waging” a new Cold War with the US.
“The CCP should be thought of as a hungry shark that will keep eating until its nose bumps into a metal barrier,” Pottinger told congressional leaders.
“But nor do they take it personally when they see divers building a shark cage. For them, it’s just business. It’s what they do,” he added. “The more resolutely and unapologetically we take steps to defend our national security, the more that boundaries will be respected and the more stable the balance of power is likely to be.”
Pottinger and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.