Despite much focus on Beijing’s blueprint to invade Taiwan, Chang argued the high command of the People’s Liberation Army disagree with President Xi.
“Xi Jinping has made it a test of personal legitimacy to annex Taiwan but it appears that the Chinese military is not really keen on that,” he explained.
“This is the reason why Xi Jinping has been firing a lot of general officers recently.
“I think the military understands that Taiwan is too hard a target but we are seeing some very dangerous Chinese activities in the South China Sea.”
Chang also warned China could look to target the Philippines in a move which could also drag the US into an East Asian conflict due to its obligations in the 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty.
The 72-year-old, who warned the chances of conflict are “high” and stressed “it looks like war is coming”, concluded: “[Henry] Kissinger implied that something's got to change to prevent that war but unfortunately we don't see the change that is necessary to deter China.”
US President Joe Biden (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together after a meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' week in Woodside
He instead highlighted how China’s military buildup, response to sanctions, stockpiling efforts, surveying of American nuclear weapons, purging of dissident officers and mobilising the civilian population showed Beijing is “preparing” for conflict.
Xi’s much-reported visit to San Francisco appeared to bring about mixed results for Sino-American relations.
President Joe Biden stressed: “I believe these are some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had.”
However, the pair have little common ground when it comes to climate change and Secretary of State Antony Blinken showed his dispair when Biden labelled his Chinese counterpart a “dictator”.
Despite some tetchy moments, Xi and Biden hoped to put aside confrontation and stress cooperation.
Beijing and Washington agreed to work together to fight fentanyl trafficking and hinted pandas could become “envoys of friendship”.
But Biden is committed to defend Taiwan from any attack.
President Xi JinpingPA
Speaking last September, the 46th President said: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning replied: “The US remarks … severely violate the important commitment the US made not to support Taiwan independence, and send a seriously erroneous signal to Taiwanese separatist independence forces.”
Mao added: “We are willing to make the biggest sincere efforts to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification.
“At the same time, we will never tolerate any activities aimed at splitting the country, and reserve the choice to take all necessary measures.”
Taipei expressed “sincere gratitude” to Biden for “affirming the US government’s rock-solid promise of security to Taiwan”.
Taiwan vowed to “resist authoritarian expansion and aggression” and “deepen the close security partnership” with Washington.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing reached fever-pitch ahead of the disagreement when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August.