After a meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, Biden says Taiwan is not in ‘imminent’ danger of invasion.
“Biden does not believe China has ‘imminent’ plans to invade Taiwan,” reported The Guardian today.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping met in Bali on Monday at the G20 summit, where the two discussed global events, trade, and Taiwan.
“I made it clear that our policy on Taiwan has not changed at all,” President Biden said of his meeting with Xi Jinping. “It’s the same exact position we have always had. I made it clear that I want to see cross-strait issues peacefully resolved so that it never has to come to that. I’m convinced that he understood exactly what I was saying, and I understood what he was saying.”
“We oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side and we are committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Biden told reporters.
It’s good news for anyone who has been nervously watching the world edge closer to global conflict over the past year.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a surprise to world leaders, but it shouldn’t have been. Before marching on Kyiv, Putin’s government had been applying military pressure to Ukraine for over a decade.
Information warfare strategies including attacks on critical infrastructure, hacking, malware, election interference, and other acts of malfeasance and interference, were commonplace in Ukraine, an open secret.
Most Ukrainians knew their nation was at war with Russia long before the E.U. was ready to admit it.
Vladimir Putin lied about his intentions as long as he could, dismissing the rumors of a Russian invasion until it was no longer possible to do so. The Kremlin claimed the actions of the Russian military, as clearly visible from satellite photography, were a routine training exercise until the last possible moment.
In retrospect, it’s obvious Vladimir Putin always planned to invade Ukraine. In softening the country up for a decade, Putin was merely biding time and awaiting his opportunity.
COVID-19 provided that opportunity.
With other world governments weakened by COVID-19 and the extreme mitigation measures they took to stop it, Putin saw the chance he had long been waiting for and took action.
Had COVID-19 not happened, some other opportunity would have presented itself. Sooner or later, Putin would have moved on Ukraine.
What is China’s Xi Jinping waiting for?
The plans Russia had for Ukraine prior to February 2022, China has for Taiwan.
Not only does Beijing consider Taiwan to be part of “One China”, but the CCP has said so — repeatedly, clearly, and lately.
Everything Russia had been doing to Ukraine before invading, China has been doing to Taiwan — and more. Information warfare, election interference, intellectual capture, economic sabotage, misinformation. Weakening an enemy from within, to make it easier to conquer from without is an ancient strategy of warfare.
For the Chinese Communist Party, it is part of a new strategy of warfare China publicly adopted over a decade ago.
The calculation Vladimir Putin made about Ukraine — that other world leaders would be too distracted by mounting problems at home to offer any real resistance — has to be a consideration of the Chinese Communist Party, too.
If party leadership was waiting for a good time to invade Taiwan, it’s hard to imagine a better time than now.
Taiwan’s would-be defenders have problems of their own; crushing inflation, supply chain issues, depleted strategic oil reserves, skyrocketing fuel costs, and looming recessions.
Western nations, including but most especially the United States, have shown themselves extremely averse to war.
America’s ignominious and precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan was a clear indication of what the U.S. is willing to endure to be free from long-term foreign conflicts.
Some of the countries that might oppose China’s annexation of Taiwan — like Germany — aren’t even sure they can keep their citizens warm this winter.
Why hasn’t Xi Jinping invaded Taiwan?
Of course, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party has some new information Vladimir Putin didn’t have back in February; namely how hard it has been for Putin in Ukraine.
If Russia’s ruler expected his conquest of Ukraine to be a minor skirmish, over quickly, he was sorely mistaken. So many months on, Ukraine’s fight for independence continues.
While Ukrainians have been fighting — and dying — to maintain the sovereignty of their nation, Russia’s geopolitical opponents have had time to move some major chess pieces against Putin. The Nord Stream was sabotaged; key bridges have been mysteriously destroyed.
The Ukrainians have been well-supplied with weapons by friendly nations like the United States and Germany. Many of these helper nations are going as close to the line as possible, the line being the point at which Putin decides their meddling counts as a direct attack.
The more time Ukraine buys, the more desperate the situation becomes for Vladimir Putin, who needed this conflict to be over about five minutes after it was begun.
Seeing Putin struggle — and struggle — in Ukraine, Xi Jinping may indeed be having second thoughts about Taiwan.
The prospect that Taiwan’s military might put up a fight equal to that of the Ukrainians must be giving some CCP brass a pause.
After all, how badly does Beijing really need Taiwan? It just successfully annexed Hong Kong, though not by force.
Fortuitously for the CCP and Xi Jinping, COVID-19 killed the pro-democracy protests which were raging in Hong Kong at the beginning of 2020. What the People’s Liberation Army could never have accomplished with tanks, not without making the nightly news for the next quarter century, COVID-19 accomplished easily.
The virus easily put pay to the protests, which the Chinese Communist Party squelched under the auspices of public safety.
The Chinese Communist Party waited a long time for Hong Kong; for decades. It is doubtful that the party has given up its designs on Taiwan.
But what China’s Xi Jinping does have is time. The Chinese Communist Party can afford to wait.
And Taiwan isn’t out of the woods yet.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)