A top Taiwan security official has claimed that China has internally debated whether to attack Taiwan’s Pratas Islands after 2024, the year President Tsai Ing-wen’s term ends.

Chen Ming-tong, Director of the National Security Bureau, did not explain how he knew such a move had been discussed or why it would not occur in the next few years.

China’s defense ministry did no immediate response to a request to comment on Thursday.

The 23 million Taiwanese citizens who are self-governing live in constant fear of being invaded by China. China regards Taiwan as its territory, and has vowed that it will one day seize the island.  

Taiwan has complained for more than a year about repeated sorties from China’s air force. Often, these sorties were in the southwestern portion of its air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled, but lightly defended Pratas Islands.

Some security experts consider the Pratas vulnerable to Chinese attack because they are located roughly between Hong Kong and southern Taiwan.

A top Taiwan security official has claimed that China has internally debated whether to attack Taiwan's Pratas Islands after 2024, the year President Tsai Ing-wen's (pictured) term ends

A top Taiwan security official claimed that China had internal discussions about whether to attack Taiwan’s Pratas Islands in 2024, the year President TsaiIng-wen’s term (pictured) ends. 

China has placed blame on Taiwan, its most important international supporter, for the simmering tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Chen spoke at a parliamentary meeting, “Attacking and Capturing the Pratas Island – this scenario where war (Taiwan into), talks is being used to force (Taiwan),” Chen said.

Chen was responding to a question by a Taiwanese lawmaker from the Kuomintang on whether China would attack Taiwan before 2024, when Tsai’s second term ends.

Chen said that they had discussed this internally before. He was referring to China, but he didn’t elaborate or mention when it happened. He said, “We clearly have some understanding.”

Taiwan’s presidential offices referred questions regarding the matter to the National Security Bureau. The Bureau did not immediately comment.

Officials previously stated that Taiwan authorities are concerned that China might capture the Pratas Islands. This could trigger a dramatic escalation of tensions, which could lead to war.

Taiwan has stated repeatedly that it wants to keep the status quo with China but also vows to protect its freedoms and democracy.

Chen informed lawmakers that, while the situation is more difficult than in the past and it was not at the point where Taiwan could be attacked, he said to lawmakers. He stated that it would not happen in the next two, three years of President Tsai’s tenure.

On Wednesday, General Mark Milley of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that China is unlikely to attempt to militarily seize Taiwan within the next few years, even though its military is developing capabilities that would allow forcibly retaking Taiwan.

China has blamed Taiwan, and its most important international supporter the United States, for the simmering tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Pictured: Chinese president Xi Jinping

China has placed blame on Taiwan, its most important international supporter, the United States, for the simmering tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Pictured: Xi Jinping, Chinese president 

This is a warning from the US that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and could have over 1000 warheads by 2030.

This is a much faster buildup than U.S. officials predicted a year ago. It suggests that Beijing could take over American power by the middle century.

The US has declared China its principle security concern for the future, as Beijing works to build the People’s Liberation Army into ‘world-class forces’ by 2049, according to its official plan.

According to a Pentagon report published Wednesday, the People’s Republic of China could have 700 nuclear warheads ready for delivery by 2027 and could reach 1,000 by 2030. This arsenal is nearly twice the size of the one the Pentagon predicted a year ago.

China, like Russia and the United States, is building a “nuclear trinity” that can deliver nuclear weapons from both land-based missiles and air-launched missiles.

According to the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress, Beijing is also building the infrastructure needed to support this major expansion in its nuclear forces.

The report stated that China was not likely to seek a capability to launch unprovoked nuclear strikes on a nuclear-armed enemy – primarily the United States. However, it was looking to deter any such attacks by maintaining a credible threat to nuclear retaliation.

Beijing dismissed US concerns over its military developments and accused the Pentagon of trying to hype up talk of China’s nuclear threat.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, stated that the US Department of Defense’s report was ‘like other similar reports’. 

The Pentagon’s China Report from a year ago stated that China had approximately 200 warheads capable of being delivered and would increase this number by 2030.

Independent researchers published satellite photos in recent months of new nuclear missile silos located in western China.

These developments are occurring as China expands and updates its military in an effort to project power globally, much the same way the United States has done for many decades.

The rivalry has raised concerns about a potential US-China conflict, especially over Taiwan. Although Washington is supportive of Taiwan, Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory. Beijing could retake Taiwan one day by force.

According to the most recent report, China plans to have ‘the capability to counter the US military operations in the Indo-Pacific region and compel Taiwan to negotiate on Beijing’s terms by 2027. 

Spectators wave Chinese flags as military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China

Spectators wave Chinese flags during a parade to remember the 70th anniversary since the founding of Communist China.

Maxar satellite imagery of one of hundreds of missile silos being constructed under inflatable domes at three missile fields and a training area in north-central China

Maxar satellite imagery of one hundred missile silos constructed under inflatable domes at three missile bases and a training area located in north-central China

The report also confirmed reports that Pentagon officials had to calm Beijing’s concerns that the United States, motivated primarily by domestic tensions over the presidential election, was planning to instigate conflict with China in South China Sea.

The report stated that the PLA had intensified its warnings through state-controlled media, launched large scale military exercises, increased deployments, and placed troops on heightened readiness to underline its fears.

Concerns eased after senior Pentagon officials attempted to speak directly to Chinese counterparts.

The report stated that “These events highlighted the possibility of miscalculation and misunderstanding, and underlined the importance effective and timely communication.”

It also questioned PLA’s intentions in biological research into substances that could have both military and medical uses.

“Studies at PRC military medical facilities discussed identifying, testing and characterizing diverse families potent toxins with dual use applications,” the report stated. This raises concerns about compliance with international chemical and biological weapons treaties.

These concerns have grown since Covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan, central China. This area is also home to a biological research laboratory with PLA connections.

China denies that the facility was involved with the Covid epidemic, but has restricted access for investigators.     

President Biden on Tuesday warned China to 'play by the rules of the road' as he said he did not expect competition to become conflict, amid tensions over the status of Taiwan

On Tuesday, President Biden warned China that he would not allow competition to turn into conflict amid tensions surrounding Taiwan’s status.

Beijing has made it a point to bring Taiwan, which Beijing considers its sacred territory, under its rule. It has not stopped using force.

The Pentagon report raised concerns about China’s growing military might and its development of options for taking Taiwan, one of many scenarios that the U.S. military warned Beijing could pursue.

However, a senior U.S. Defense official briefed reporters and declined to speculate about whether this scenario was likely or say whether they saw a near-term or medium-term threat of armed conflict with Taipei.

The briefing included a long list of possible Taiwan scenarios. A U.S. official mentioned the possibility that China could be willing to work with the United States on options, including a joint blockade campaign against Taiwan or a full-scale amphibious incursion.

It could also launch missile strikes and cyber attacks. China could also seize off-shore islands. The official declined to identify which of these contingencies was most likely, or if any, at all.

China, the US and Russia are engaged in a global arms race that now includes the development of hypersonic missile technology. Here, the MailOnline has compared (from left) each country's main nuclear weapon, the latest hypersonic technology they have tested, their most up-to-date aircraft carriers, main battle tanks, and cutting-edge jets

The US, Russia and China are all involved in a global arms race which now includes the development hypersonic missile technology. The MailOnline has shown (from left to right) the main nuclear weapons of each country, the most recent hypersonic technology that they have tested, their latest aircraft carriers, main battle tank, and cutting-edge jets. 

Spectators wave Chinese flags as military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China

Spectators wave Chinese flags during a parade to remember the 70th anniversary since the founding of Communist China.

However, the Pentagon expressed concern about China’s pursuits of capabilities that could enable such actions.

According to the official, they have a wide range of things they are willing to do.

Separately on Wednesday, the top U.S. general stated that China was unlikely in the next couple years to try to militarily take over Taiwan.

When asked by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if China was planning to move on Taiwan in the near-term, Milley replied, “Based on my analysis of China. I don’t think it is likely in that near future.”

The Pentagon report included a section on China’s potential dual use of biological weapons, but did no look at COVID-19’s origins.

After COVID-19 was discovered in Wuhan, a central Chinese city, in late 2019, there has been a greater focus on China’s biological and chemical capabilities.

U.S. intelligence services said last week they may never be capable of identifying the origins of the pandemic.

China has repeatedly denied claims that the virus was leaking from a Wuhan-based specialist laboratory.