US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday he sees no imminent invasion of Taiwan by China but said China was trying to establish a “new normal” with its military activities around the island.
A visit to Taiwan early in August by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi enraged China, which subsequently launched military drills near the island. Those have continued, although on a much reduced scale.
“I don’t see an imminent invasion,” Austin said in an interview broadcast on CNN.
“What we do see is China moving to establish what we would call a new normal. Increased activity we saw a number of centre line crossings of the Taiwan Strait by their aircraft. That number has increased over time. We’ve seen more activity with their surface vessels and waters in and around Taiwan.”
The United States and its allies have responded to the drills by continuing to sail through the region. A US Navy warship and a Canadian frigate made a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on September 20.