During a keynote address at the Grand Strategy Summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, O’Brien responded to the increased tension between China and Taiwan and claimed that the Chinese Communist Party could attack Taiwan much sooner than current national security experts have predicted in order to take advantage of the United States’s current administration.
“I think the window has shrunk. I think it’s down to two years because they perceive, not necessarily accurately, they perceive America as weak right now,” O’Brien said. “They don’t want new presidents to come in, they don’t want Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump to return or Mike Pompeo in office at the time they seek some reunification with Taiwan. So I think, having watched Afghanistan and some of the moves we made, the lack of energy independence that we have, and some of the other failures of this administration, they believe they have a very narrow window to take Taiwan. I hope I’m wrong. I pray that I’m wrong. But it’s probably the biggest national security threat we face.”
O’Brien, who served as the national security adviser for Trump, added that the United States needed to be perceived as strong because a “strong America deters its adversaries” and recommended the administration strengthen the United States military to avoid aggression with China.
“Appeasement actually invites aggression because our adversaries believe there’s an opportunity to make a movement and get away with it,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien’s comments come after Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that China could be working on a faster timeline for its invasion last month.
Pentagon officials have since rejected that an attack could come in the next two years, claiming they believe China would put more pressure on Taiwan but not invade. The timeline for an invasion is predicted to be around 2027, according to Undersecretary of Defense for policy Colin Kahl. China has denied any timeline for an invasion of Taiwan and claimed it does not want to use force to take the island.
Ties between the United States and China reached a low point after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan over the summer, sparking condemnation from Beijing. However, Biden is expected to have his first in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, where he will discuss Taiwan, among other topics. The purpose of the meeting is to improve communications between the two countries, a senior White House official said Thursday.
Biden said he would not make any concessions in the meeting and will attempt to avoid conflict with China while laying out the “red lines” for both countries.