In connection with the conduct of a special military operation by Russia in Ukraine, the Western media fear the threat of a forceful solution of the Taiwan issue from the PRC. Taipei has already raised the level of combat readiness of its forces after the violation of airspace by Chinese fighters was recorded on the island. At the same time, the media do not exclude that Beijing is monitoring the situation around Russia in order to determine the potential risks of the operation in Taiwan. Can China close the Taiwan issue by military means – in the material of Gazeta.Ru.
The Taiwanese authorities are watching with apprehension the development of the crisis around Ukraine, where Russia launched a special military operation on February 24 in response to a request for assistance from the DPR and LPR, writes CNBC. According to the publication, Taipei does not rule out that China could use the current situation and launch an attack on the island, which it considers part of its territory.
In Taiwan, they explain their fears by what they say are more frequent violations of the island’s airspace by Chinese fighters and reconnaissance aircraft. Thus, according to the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, on the day the Russian operation in Ukraine began, eight Chinese J-16s and a Yun-8 technical reconnaissance aircraft crossed the air defense zone of the Taiwanese side.
This is far from the first incident since the beginning of 2022, but it was from this incident that Taipei decided to increase the level of combat readiness of its forces. According to Fox News, Taiwanese aircraft regularly respond to such incidents by monitoring the actions of China’s aviation.
At the same time, according to the channel, the US authorities are aware of and concerned about China’s alleged provocations against Taiwan.
The Pentagon has already stated that such moves by Beijing destabilize the situation and undermine peace in the region. However, China does not share Washington’s fears, calling on the American side to stop interfering in the internal affairs of the state.
Moreover, the official representative of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, emphasized separately that the Taiwan issue should not be associated with the crisis around Ukraine.
Will China take over Taiwan?
The issue of Taipei’s status is one of the most painful for Beijing. Despite the fact that most of the world’s states adhere to the One China policy, since the end of the war in 1949, Taiwan, or the Republic of China, has been a de facto independent state. Beijing considers Taiwan an integral part of the PRC.
Former US President Donald Trump has previously argued that the Chinese authorities may regard the crisis around Ukraine as a signal for action. The politician made his forecast even before the start of the Russian operation, after the recognition of the independence of the DPR and LPR by Moscow on February 21.
“China will be next. If I were president, he would not even try [to attack Taiwan],” Trump said, stressing that Beijing’s attack on the island could begin any time after the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20.
At the same time, under the current conditions, China’s attempt to use force to resolve the problem is unlikely, according to experts interviewed by Gazeta.Ru.
Thus, Andrey Karneev, head of the HSE School of Oriental Studies, points out that not so long ago, a number of Taiwanese officials said that while China is not ready, but in 10 years, according to the state of its armed forces, it will be able to annex the island by military means.
“Such a strong-arm scenario carries a lot of risks for China. And under the current conditions, this is probably unlikely to happen. In particular, because at the moment there is no clear preponderance of forces on the side of mainland China. In recent decades, Beijing has shown that it is quite cautious in calculating all its steps. At the same time, it is possible that at the level of staff officers some plans and scenarios for armed operations in the Taiwan Strait are still being calculated, ”the expert added.
Moreover, against the background of the crisis in Europe, China may try to improve relations with the United States, and this option cannot include a forceful way to solve the problem of Taiwan, Karneev said.
The interlocutor of Gazeta.Ru believes that at the moment it is important for Beijing to reduce the level of tension.
“So far, in the US-PRC pair, it cannot be said that China is the strongest. In terms of the combination of economic and military potential, the American side is still in first place.
Therefore, it is important for Beijing to reduce the level of tension, which will favor the PRC, which hopes to maintain the pace of its economic growth – this should allow China to achieve its goal of becoming the first economy in the world, ”the expert said.
Mikhail Karpov, a sinologist and author of scientific publications on the Chinese economy, partly agrees with this. According to him, at the moment, China is not going to close the issue with Taiwan by force.
“Beijing is playing its own complicated game, trying to sit on many chairs – both American and Russian.
In this situation, China is likely to support the United States. Russia is such a test balloon for China, he is watching what will come of it. Beijing has already stated that they do not want to see the same situation that is currently unfolding in Ukraine. So it is unlikely that now there is a possibility of resolving the issue of Taiwan by military means,” the expert concluded.
What threatens China with a power scenario
At the same time, in the Western media space, the discussion regarding the possible actions of Beijing in Taiwan is marked “events around the Russian operation in Ukraine.” In fact, the likelihood of a military scenario may depend on how the West reacts to Russia’s actions. In particular, the former deputy assistant to the head of the Pentagon, Heino Klink, did not rule out that the PRC is actively monitoring the situation in order to obtain more information on possible risks.
“They are getting more data by looking at what the West is doing now towards Russia. This will inform and potentially shape Chinese decision-making. Any sign of weakness will be taken into account by the Chinese, ”said the former employee of the US presidential administration.
From the point of view of Andrey Karneev from the Higher School of Economics, China is indeed closely watching the development of the situation in Europe. However, according to him, a possible invasion of Taiwan can hardly be equated with Russia’s operation in Ukraine.
“Still, there is a US factor in the Taiwan issue, which has never stated that it will not stand up for Taipei. With regard to Ukraine, Washington has said many times that they are not going to fight the Russians, and there is strategic uncertainty regarding Taiwan. If the US wants to, they will intervene and launch some kind of military operation to protect Taipei. It is clear that Taiwan will be able to hold out only for a short time on its own. In addition, on this issue, the United States has such an ally as Japan, which in recent years has begun to take a tougher stance on Taiwan,” the expert noted.
At the same time, sinologist Mikhail Karpov believes that it is rather difficult to assess the possible risks for Beijing in the event of an attempt to use force against Taiwan. In his opinion, this will be different from the Ukrainian crisis.
“If we compare it with the situation around Ukraine, then Russia is not being pressured now, it is being beaten up and sausages — the further, the more.
China, of course, looks at all this and does not want the collapse of the Russian political system, but if this starts to happen, it will not support it. At the same time, if Beijing really decides to go for a military scenario on Taiwan, then the situation here will still be different, ”the expert concluded.
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