According to intelligence chief William Burns, the US is “convinced” that China is considering supplying arms to Russia for the Ukraine war. Such a decision by Beijing would be “a very risky and unwise option,” the head of the CIA’s foreign intelligence service told CBS on Sunday. “I really hope they don’t.”

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told CNN that Beijing has not yet made a final decision. The US government will continue to “monitor the situation closely,” Sullivan added. “We will be vigilant.”

According to a Wall Street Journal report, China is considering supplying drones and ammunition to Russia. Beijing has so far denied plans to sell arms to Russia. Burns said both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Biden “thought it was important to be very clear about the implications of that.”

Biden said on Friday that he did not expect major arms deliveries from Beijing to Moscow. Blinken, on the other hand, said a week ago that Washington was concerned that China was “considering providing lethal support” to Moscow in the Ukraine war.

According to CIA chief William Burns, US intelligence information also shows that China has doubts about being able to successfully invade Taiwan. In a television interview aired on Sunday, Burns stressed that the United States must take Chinese President Xi Jinping’s desire to control Taiwan very seriously, even if military conflict is not inevitable.

“We know that President Xi has instructed the PLA, the Chinese military leadership, to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027, but that doesn’t mean he has also decided to invade in 2027 or any other year,” Burns told CBS. “I think our assessment today is that President Xi and his military leadership have doubts about their ability to carry out this invasion,” he said.

Taiwan seceded from China in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the Communist Party taking control of the mainland. The self-governing island behaves like a sovereign state but is not recognized by the United Nations or any major country. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter officially recognized the government in Beijing and severed ties with Taiwan. As a result, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, laying the foundation for an ongoing relationship.

In the face of increasing power demonstrations by Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, Taiwan has been repeatedly assured of official American support for island democracy. President Joe Biden has stated that American forces will defend Taiwan if China attempts to invade. The White House states that US policy has not changed and that Washington wants a peaceful solution to Taiwan’s status. It is silent on whether US forces could be dispatched in response to a Chinese attack.

In Sunday’s interview, Burns said US and European allies’ support for Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country could serve as a potential deterrent to Chinese officials for now, but that the risks of a possible attack on Taiwan only get bigger.

“I think the experience that Putin had in Ukraine reinforced some of those doubts,” Burns said. “All I want to say is that I believe the risks of possible violence are likely to increase as you get further into this decade and beyond into the next decade. So that’s something we’re obviously watching very, very closely,” he said.

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