President Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, urged Taiwan to improve its defense strategies against a possible “amphibious invasion” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

While holding a teleforum with the Aspen Institute, O’Brien announced, “Taiwan needs to start looking at some asymmetric and anti-access area denial strategies.”

“And really fortify itself in a manner that would deter the Chinese from any sort of amphibious invasion or even a gray zone operation against them,” the U.S. official added, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

O’Brien’s warning comes just days after the State Department notified Congress of the sale to Taiwan of a $2 billion coastal defense missile package that still requires approval.

Elbridge Colby, a former Pentagon official who helped design the Defense Department’s national defense strategy for 2017 and 2018, said of the current situation between the CCP and Taiwan, “It’s a serious problem right now and it could get worse in the next few years. It’s a short-term problem.”

The Washington Examiner said the risks that exist given the strained relations between Taiwan and the CCP may be further compounded by uncertainties over whether the United States would defend Taiwan.

“In the eventuality of China actually trying something with Taiwan, do you believe that the U.S. will go out there and defend Taiwan?” an Indo-Pacific official asked. “So this is the question being asked by many people,” according to the Examiner.

According to Taiwan News, the survey conducted by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF), “indicates that 60 percent of Taiwanese adults over the age of 20 believe that if the Chinese Communist Party uses force against Taiwan, the United States can send troops to defend it. The TPOF has a strong belief that the United States can send troops to defend Taiwan, while 33 percent of Taiwanese would not agree with such an approach.

For Colby, while Chinese officials have avoided large-scale conflict for decades, one of the purposes of the CCP is to sow widespread global distrust of the U.S. image, promoting the idea that it is breaking its promises, making the idea of an invasion more attractive.

“China will want to make an example of a country that has strong ties, either an alliance or quasi-alliance, with the United States—which Taiwan effectively does,” Colby said.

Secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping, on Oct. 13 seemed to confirm the high tone that exists between Taiwan and the CCP after he ordered the country’s armed forces to put “all their mind and energy into preparing for war,” according to the Chinese state agency Xinhua News.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s security team has been sending diplomatic signals to get in the way of strained relations between Beijing and Taipei. Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States would be a “good security partner” for Taiwan in the face of an eventual attack from mainland China.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has also tried to warn the CCP, “I’m sure we would prevail in any conflict today,” Esper said last week.

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