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Why China Might Follow Russia’s Lead (Or Not) | War in Ukraine

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Not right away, believes Daniel Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. It won’t be in the weeks or months to come, he notes. The Chinese Communist Party Congress, scheduled for this fall and at which Xi is expected to be re-elected, is too big a step.

He has too much to lose over the next year. But I think after that the pressure will increase on Taiwan. »

A quote from Daniel Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute

What is certain is that Xi Jinping is watching the situation closely, notes Mr. Blumenthal. He watches carefully to see how the United States and theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization are reacting to the aggression and, if he decides the reaction is weak, that would certainly encourage him to plan more aggressive actions against Taiwan.

This is also the opinion of Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China. The Chinese will study the reaction of the Americans, as well as the sanctions imposed on Russia to see if they have teeth. From this, China will finalize its plans. This is why it is important for the reaction of the Americans and the allies to be very strong.

The sanctions regime against Russia is still evolving, but already the big banks have been targeted, as well as the energy and defense sectors. Russian imports of advanced technological products, such as semiconductors or sensors, are restricted. Several members of the elite, including President Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, have also had their assets in the European Union frozen.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The European Commission held a last-minute summit to discuss action against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, on February 25, 2022, in Brussels.

Photo: Getty Images / JOHANNA GERON

Would Xi Jinping be right to believe that the reaction of Westerners, and in particular that of Americans, would be the same in the event of an invasion of Taiwan?

It is far from certain that this would be the case, believes Emily Holland, assistant professor at the Institute of Russian Maritime Studies at the Naval War College of the United States, who recalls that Ukraine is not part of theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Alliance is therefore not required to come to its aid, while Taiwan is a de facto security partner of the United States. The West has never given formal security guarantees to Ukraine, while the United States is bound to Taiwan by the Taiwan Relations Actunderlines Ms. Holland.

Under this law, the United States must provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself in the event of an attack, but it is not certain whether or not it would send troops to help it. The stakes are higher in Taiwanthinks the analyst.

For the United States, Taiwan is a major symbol of the triumph of liberalism; democracy and the economy are flourishing there. It is very different from Ukraine, where the economy has been depressed by years of war, and democracy there is still nascent and shaky. »

A quote from Emily Holland, assistant professor at the Institute of Russian Maritime Studies at the United States Naval War College

The United States, moreover, does not hide it, opines Daniel Blumenthal. U.S. commentators and officials try to distinguish between potential reactions to an invasion of Taiwan and reactions to other threatshe believes.

In addition to the risk of miscalculating the American response, in the case of Taiwan, other actors could intervene, thinks Guy Saint-Jacques. Japan would probably reacthe points out.Abe recently said that if China invaded Taiwan, he would have to get involved. And we know that Japan occupied Taiwan for a very long time.”,”text”:”Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said recently that if China invaded Taiwan, he would have to get involved. And we know that Japan occupied Taiwan for a very long time.”}}”>Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said recently that if China invaded Taiwan, he would have to get involved. And we know that Japan occupied Taiwan for a very long time.

An emergency in Taiwan is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-US allianceShinzo Abe said in December, much to the chagrin of Beijing.

Major differences

Whether Beijing decides to follow Russia’s lead in launching an assault on Taiwan is unlikely, said Michael Cole, senior fellow at the Taipei-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Situations are very different, explains the analyst. There is not a large ethnic minority in Taiwan that supports annexation, as there is in Ukraine. Then, Taiwan being an island, an invasion would require a maritime attack, more perilous than simply crossing a border, the preparation of which would leave time for the United States and Japan to deploy their military personnel.

Russian soldiers in Syria.

Russian soldiers in Syria

Photo: Reuters/Omar Sanadiki

Finally, he underlines, the Chinese military forces do not have the experience that the Russians have in terms of invasion, as we have seen, before Ukraine, in Georgia or in Syria.

On the other hand, China could exploit the situation in Ukraine to exacerbate its pressure and its psychological warfare against Taiwan: even more frequent military maneuvers, operations targeting islands controlled by Taiwan in the China Sea, increased disinformation campaign, etc. »

A quote from Michael Cole, Principal Investigator at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute

Beijing could very well decide to stick with it, also thinks Daniel Blumenthal. The threat of invasion is a very good tool of coercionhe notes. The hope in China is that a military campaign of intimidation and threats will be enough to break the will of Washington and Taipei to resist Chinese political demands on Taipei.

Anyway, the Taiwanese are worried. President Tsai Ing-wen recently set up a working group to analyze the situation in Ukraine, to which she reiterated her empathy. The president also called for greater vigilance regarding military activities in the region.

On the Chinese side, we reject any link between the two situations: Taiwan is not UkraineChinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday. Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China. This is an indisputable legal and historical fact.

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