Xi is ‘preparing the Chinese people for war’: former national security adviser

  • Retired Lieutenant General HR McMaster has warned that Xi Jinping is preparing China for war.
  • McMaster said that Xi has been signaling more and more aggression in his speeches on Taiwan.
  • He urged the United States to strengthen its military presence to discourage China from making a move against Taiwan.

Herbert Raymond McMaster, a former national security adviser, said Monday that he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping is “preparing the Chinese people for war.”

Speaking in CBS’s “Face The Nation,” hosted by Margaret Brennan, McMaster said the United States should be careful “not to fall into the same traps we fell into with Vladimir Putin” when it comes to the threat of conflict with China over Taiwan.

He and several experts, including Michèle Flournoy, the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, were on the show discussing US foreign policy on various fronts, including the Iran deal, 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 United States should take possible threats from Xi seriously, adding that the leader “means it.”

“I think we have to be careful not to paint the picture, not to fall into the same traps that we did with Vladimir Putin, of confirmation bias and optimism bias,” McMaster said.

He added that Xi has been taking aggressive stances in recent speeches, telling the Chinese people that sacrifices would be needed to restore China’s national greatness.

McMaster said Xi has “made it quite clear” through his recent statements that he is preparing to move against Taiwan and “subsume” the island.

“China has become more and more aggressive, not just from an economic and financial perspective and a wolf warrior diplomatic perspective, but physically, with its military,” he added.

McMaster urged the United States to increase its military presence in the Asia Pacific region. “We talk a lot about trusting our allies and that maybe if we step back, allies will do more,” McMaster said. “I think the opposite is actually true. If the Americans do a little more, many of our allies will follow suit and bolster their defensive capabilities as well.”

Xi said in October that China is “fighting for the possibility of a peaceful reunification with Taiwan”, but he also repeatedly pointed to aggression toward the democratic island as he consolidated his power last fall.

He opened the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China by saying that his government “never promise to renounce the use of force” to seize Taiwan. In November, Xi urged the Chinese military to be ready for a possible 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 followed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taipei. Beijing, irritated by the visit, responded announcing a series of renewed military exercises near the island.

Xi Jinping inspects a military command center in November.

Xi Jinping speaks at an inspection of a military command center in November.

Li Gang/Xinhua via Getty Images

On the US side, President Joe Biden angered Beijing in October when he broke with long-term US policy. saying that Washington would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China.

The White House later clarified that the president’s comments had not signaled a change in foreign policy and that the United States was still opposed to “any unilateral change in the status quo.”

Biden’s rhetoric then changed when 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 email request for comment.

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