Herbert Raymond McMaster, a former National Security Adviser, said on Monday he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping is “preparing the Chinese people for war.”
Speaking on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” hosted by Margaret Brennan, McMaster said the US should take care “not to fall into the same traps we did with Vladimir Putin” when it comes to the threat of conflict with China over Taiwan.
He and several pundits, including Michèle Flournoy, the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, were on the show discussing US foreign policy on various fronts, such as dealing with Iran, the war in Ukraine, and China.
McMaster, a retired lieutenant general who served as National Security Adviser in 2017 and 2018 under former President Donald Trump, said the US should take potential threats from Xi seriously, adding that the leader “means what he says.”
“China has become increasingly aggressive, not only from an economic and financial perspective and a wolf warrior diplomacy perspective, but physically, with its military,” he added.
McMaster urged the US to increase its military presence in the Asia Pacific region. “We talk a lot about relying on our allies and that maybe if we take a step back, the allies will do more,” said McMaster. “I think actually the opposite is the case. If Americans just do a little bit more, many of our allies will follow suit and bolster their defensive capabilities and capacity as well.”
Xi said in October that China is “striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification with Taiwan,” but also repeatedly signaled aggression toward the democratic island while he consolidated his power last fall.
He opened China’s 20th Communist Party Congress by saying his government would “never promise to give up the use of force” to seize Taiwan. In November, Xi urged the Chinese military to be ready for potential war and outlined a vision for the People’s Liberation Army to become a world-class force by 2027.
The Chinese president also denounced “foreign interference” with Taiwan — a veiled threat against the US that came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taipei . Beijing, bristling at the visit, responded by announcing a slew of renewed military drills near the island.
On the part of the US, President Joe Biden angered Beijing in October when he broke from long-term US policy by saying that Washington would defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China.
The White House later clarified that the president’s comments hadn’t signaled a change in foreign policy and that the US still opposed “any unilateral changes to the status quo.”
Biden’s rhetoric then shifted as he met Xi in November for the G20 summit, when the president emphasized cooperation between their nations and peace in the Taiwan Strait.
McMaster did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment via email.
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