U.S. Admiral John Aquilino, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, March 23, warned that Taiwan faces an imminent threat of invasion by the communist Chinese regime even sooner than imagined by the international community. 

Aquilino has been nominated to become commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), succeeding the current commander, Adm. Philip Davidson. When he was testifying, Aquilino was asked about Davidson’s recent comment that Beijing could invade Taiwan in the “next six years.”

In response, Aquilino refused to endorse the six-year estimate, saying there were “a lot of numbers out there” ranging from “today to 2045.” However, Aquilino warned that the imminent threat to the self-governing island is constant and could be at any time.

“My view is that this problem is much closer to us than most think,” Aquilino said. “We have to take this on, implement those deterrence capabilities as PDI (Pacific Deterrence Initiative) in the short term and with urgency.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers regaining control over Taiwan its “number one priority,” Aquilino said, arguing that it is betting on Taiwan as a tactic to demonstrate its “rejuvenation.” 

Aquilino warned that the CCP has developed certain strategies and capabilities to succeed in keeping the United States out of the region.

He said the threat was such that the United States needs to implement a proposed $27 billion plan to boost U.S. defense in the region “in the short term and urgently.”

INDOPACOM has proposed that Congress should provide the IDP with about $27 billion in additional spending from 2022 to 2027, including $4.6 billion for fiscal year 2022. The money would be spent on new weapons, such as a missile defense system in Guam and collaboration with allies in the region.

The Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), created under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, the Pentagon’s annual spending bill, aims to secure advanced military capabilities to deter military threats from the CCP in the Indo-Pacific region. The PDI is similar to the European Deterrence Initiative, which was launched in 2014 to enhance U.S. military readiness in Europe.

When the CCP forcibly seized power in China in 1949, the Republic of China government and military, led by President Chiang Kai-shek, withdrew to Taiwan.

Since then, the island has maintained its autonomy and independence, which has allowed it to develop outstanding economic progress and a healthy democratic system, unlike mainland China.

Taiwan is a de facto independent country with its own democratically elected officials, military, constitution, and currency. Washington currently has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, but has maintained a strong relationship with the island under the Taiwan Relations Act, which authorizes the United States to supply military equipment for the island’s defense.

This reality just a few miles from the world’s largest dictatorial regime means enormous discomfort for the CCP that sees Taiwan as the next Hong Kong, experts say. 

“Taiwan’s very existence as a free and democratic society is a living condemnation of the CCP,” explained Michael Cole, a senior fellow based in Taipei at the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington D.C., when asked by Fox News.