The U.S. government is making preparations to evacuate American citizens living in Taiwan, according to unnamed officials who spoke with The Messenger.
Amid a “heightened level of tension,” the source said in the report, the U.S. has been planning a mass evacuation scenario for at least six months. They added that preparations have “heated up over the past two months or so.”
Though many persistently worry that China may use military force to re-take Taiwan, the Pentagon is stepping up efforts to bolster readiness, as some officials believe such an attack could come by 2027.
Both the U.S. and China have been wargaming conflict scenarios. However, the outcomes have revealed the U.S. to be largely unprepared for a serious conflict with China, POLITICO reported.
The U.S. government has not publicly commented on the evacuation plans. Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Martin Meiners told The Messenger, “We do not see a conflict in the Taiwan Strait as imminent or inevitable.”
A former State Department official said that “even talking about an [evacuation plan] starts people thinking something may be going on even if it is just prudent planning.”
John McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA and practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, told The Messenger that a key challenge would be locating U.S. citizens on the island.
“One thing they might do, I would do, is I would be finding a way to tell Americans there to register in this database,” referring to a State Department registry for citizens living abroad. He added that other logistical issues would need to be addressed as well.
“From a contingency point of view, you need to anticipate how many aircraft you’re going to need, what rate they’re going to have to be prepared to go in and out, and who’s in charge of that,” he added. “And then there’s internal transportation, how to get people to the airports and get out.”
Recently, U.S. officials said they would be significantly increasing the number of troops deployed to Taiwan, as well as expanding a secretive training program aimed at boosting Taiwan’s capabilities to defend itself, should China proceed with an attack.
Chinese officials have also recently hinted at the possibility of “conflict and confrontation” with the U.S.
“The United States claims it seeks to compete with China, but does not seek conflict. In fact, the United States’ so-called competition is total containment and suppression,” China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang told reporters.
“It’s a zero-sum game in which you die and I live,” he added. “If the United States does not hit the brakes, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing or a crash and there will be conflict and confrontation.”