There is a threat that China has been making relentlessly for decades, but there is a clever reason the country has never followed through.
Intimidation pays off. And so China may be less willing than fear when it comes to invading Taiwan. for now.
Throughout 2021, the drums of war were beating loudly.
Defense Minister Peter Dutton At an Australian Press Club luncheon late last month it was said that “if Taiwan is taken, so of course Senkaku is next. Please don’t rely on your imagination. The Chinese Communist Party could not have been any clearer – not always with its words, but certainly with its actions.”
But it was the words of Beijing’s “wolf warrior” diplomats that prompted the minister to take the stage on the topic of “territorial order”.
“Does the Chinese government want to take over other countries? Not in my judgement,” Dutton said, “but they see us as supporting states”.
Similarly, conflicting sentiments outside Beijing are eating into international affairs analysts around the world.
Taiwan is clearly a sensitive subject. as before and South China Sea,
But does Beijing mean exactly what it says? Whose words do we listen to? And what are the messages aimed at anyway?
“(Taiwan is) used for this type of low-intensity Chinese military provocation,” Taiwan Studies fellow Wen-Ti Sung argues at the Australian National University.
“Indeed, they have been living under the almost constant presence of Chinese military and diplomatic pressure for more than a quarter century.”
and that, Historian A.A. Bastian. They say, provides insight into the method behind Beijing’s madness.
“Over the past few decades, threatening Taiwan has been beneficial to China,” Bastian writes.
“(It is) often getting it what it wanted, and has been much more useful – and much less expensive – than seizing the island by force.”
lack of conflict war
War is complicated. Open acts of aggression are sanctioned by international law. It’s hard to ‘spin’ the attack, even with an army of online trolls.
Like Russia and its invasions of Crimea and Georgia, China will face international sanctions, even if its veto on the UN Security Council blocks any formal resolution.
However, the dangers lie outside international warfare.
It occupies a “grey zone” where hostile behavior does little more than trigger open conflict. As nominal civilian fishing militias and Coast Guard units continue, coordinated conflicts by regular military checks and economic coercion.
“Full-scale action against Taiwan is costly, especially with Western-Allied forces in the region; Maintaining a business would be even more so,” Bastian writes.
“Conversely, by issuing warnings, flying some airplanes, spraying some missiles into the water, and recording videos for social media, China has taken advantage of outside influence.”
Election. business deals. Vaccine distribution. Even Hollywood movies. All bowed down to China’s will in order not to offend Beijing. And Beijing has built on that impact by demonstrating its willingness to commit extreme crimes even over the smallest of challenges.
“This long-standing Chinese strategy of the brinkmanship theater has been a double-edged sword. This has encouraged pragmatism in the pursuit of a strong Taiwanese identity on the global stage, but it has also alienated many people from Beijing,” Wen-ti says.
Wen-ti says Taiwan is familiar with Beijing’s intimidation and pressure tactics. And it is suffering “alarm fatigue” after decades of wolf-warrior diplomacy.
NS the threat of war was real And after the impending Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took control of the mainland and the then autocratic Republic of China government fled to Taiwan. Only US intervention and a decades-long crisis on the mainland reduced it.
Similarly, Beijing’s hostility targeted Taiwan’s first democratic election in 1996.
War games were played. Missiles were tested. Fighters and warships made their presence near internationally defined borders. “Reunification” was a common practice among state-controlled media.
A similar move followed in 2016 after the election of Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan’s president. He had defeated an outspoken pro-Beijing opponent.
Since then, however, Beijing has doubled down on its efforts to intimidate opponents around the world.
It follows a well established pattern.
First, Beijing expresses its outrage at a “wrong” action.
Then it threatens the consequences.
In the end, it demonstrates its ability to implement those results – either militarily or economically.
“These threats can be staged with incredibly few resources and are vague enough to escape regulation under international law,” says Bastian.
But such audacity needs to be increased continuously. Otherwise, it becomes little more than noisy.
And this may already be a problem when it comes to the West.
Bastian warned, “The changing dynamics of US-China relations could mean that these threats no longer yield the same benefits or have the same efficacy – leading to a dangerous shift in a long-established pattern. “
“National Rejuvenation” is one of President Xi Jinping The greatest vision for a new China.
“The compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve the complete unification of China and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi said on the 110th anniversary of the 1911 revolution.
However, most Taiwanese support the status quo.
Only 10 per cent want integration with China. Barely 2.7 percent identify as “sugar.”
And in the midst of the hostile bustle of Beijing, those figures are falling.
“Twenty years later, China still hasn’t moved on from threats, coercion and diplomatic tantrums. Nothing has been fired in Taipei,” Bastian notes.
“Yet the danger is the issue.”
However, this danger is becoming weary.
Taiwan is becoming increasingly bold in its claims to independence. Especially after Beijing’s loud declaration of “One China, Two Systems” in Hong Kong.
“The irony is that China can get much of what it actually benefits from Taiwan by allowing its independence,” Bastian says.
“It will be a reliable and close trading partner with a prosperous economy, a neighbor who shares cultural origins and is sympathetic to the idea of the Chinese having a greater voice in the world.”
Given that President Xi and the CCP have put their prestige and authority at stake on the idea of a “reunification”, this is unlikely.
“By keeping an eye on the long game, Beijing is prepared to risk the short- to medium-term cost in losing heart and mind in Taiwan,” Wen-ti says.
“Hopefully, over time, it can eventually gain initiative.
“For this reason, being able to prevent further movement towards independence may be enough to buy China much-needed time.”
Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer. @JamieSeidel