China, which stepped up verbal threats against Taiwan before this month's polls, does not have the military capability to sustain an invasion of the island, according to CIA Director George Tenet.
"The Chinese cannot take Taiwan militarily," Tenet said just before the elections in Taiwan.
But he added that China's mobilisation, particularly of short-range ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, could not be ignored.
China recently issued a policy paper in which it threatened to use force against Taiwan if the island dragged its heels indefinitely on discussing reunification with the mainland.
That statement was viewed by some in Taipei and Washington as an attempt to influence the outcome of Taiwan presidential elections.
"There is an inevitable pre-election piece of this. We take it seriously, we watch it carefully, our hope is that after the election this all settles down and that the normal pattern of peaceful dialogue between the two countries resumes," Tenet said.