'No reason' for US-China conflict, says White House official

National Security spokesman John Kirby plays down worrying predictions by US general

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby addresses the comments on China on February 8. Photo: The National
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Conflict between the US and China is "not inevitable", a White House official said on Wednesday, after a top general warned of a war brewing between the two nuclear superpowers.

The comments from John Kirby, spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, come after an Air Force general warned in a memo last week that the US could be at war with China over Taiwan by 2025.

"But our view is a conflict is not inevitable, and not certainly not on that particular timeline," Mr Kirby said.

"We know that President Xi [Jinping of China] has said that he wants his military poised and ready by 2027 for that kind of eventuality, but our sense is that there's no there's no reason for it to come to that."

He said nothing had changed in US policy towards Taiwan, with Washington still supporting the island's self-defence but not its independence under the One China approach.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said he sought "competition, not conflict" with China but warned Beijing after America shot down a suspected spy balloon at the weekend.

"Make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China’s threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did," Mr Biden said.

The "surveillance balloon" caused a major uproar last week as it drifted across America, including over states with nuclear missile silos.

Beijing has claimed the vessel was a weather balloon.

In 2021, US Navy Admiral Phil Davidson told the US Congress of his concerns about China’s ambitions to overtake the US, and said Beijing might enter Taiwan before 2027.

In October last year, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, said Mr Xi had set a timeline for Taiwan to reunify with China by 2027 — by force, if necessary.

But Admiral Gilday warned that the move could come much sooner, possibly even this year.

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Updated: February 08, 2023, 7:54 PM