China’s hysterical reaction to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosis’ visit to Taiwan is meant to demonstrate the dire consequences that await the island if it persists in defying the will of communist rulers in Beijing . The four days of unprecedented military exercises China has launched, amounting to a sea and air blockade, are designed to show the dire fate Taiwan should expect if it maintains its defiant attitude.
Indeed, at a time when the world is still struggling to come to terms with Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the prospect of China launching a similar operation to capture Taiwan threatens to have an even more catastrophic impact on the established world order.
Just imagine the devastation that would be inflicted on the global economy if the world’s major democracies were forced to impose punitive economic sanctions against Beijing in response to a Chinese invasion. Britain alone would lose nearly $100 billion in trade overnight.
Fortunately, despite Beijing’s grotesque saber slashes in the Taiwan Strait, there is virtually no likelihood that China will launch a full-scale invasion of Taiwan in the near future for the simple reason that, in terms of military prowess , China is nothing more than a paper dragon. Even if, as many analysts predict, China will become the world’s largest economy by the 2030s, it still has a long way to go to match the military power of the United States and its allies.
For starters, invading an island nation like Taiwan is a very different proposition from Russia’s assault on Ukraine, which has mainly consisted of sending columns of tanks and troops across its neighbor’s land border, backed by artillery, missiles and fighter planes.
Moreover, the Ukrainian military enjoyed only a modest ability to defend itself against Russian aggression, as demonstrated by kyiv’s constant appeals to NATO countries to provide arms and supplies. more sophisticated.
By contrast, Taiwan has its own well-trained air force, batteries of state-of-the-art American Patriot air defense systems that are more than a match for the next-generation J-20 fighter jets of the China, as well as a highly motivated staff. army.
Taiwan is not Ukraine, and the Chinese military is far from capable of mounting the kind of large-scale and complex amphibious landing operation that would be needed to take control of the island.
For, despite the vast sums that the Chinese Communist Party has spent to develop its forces, the country is still catching up in terms of acquiring the strength necessary to challenge the military supremacy of the Americas.
The development of the two new Chinese aircraft carriers is a good example. While naval powers like the United States and Britain have been building this highly specialized military capability for nearly a century, China only acquired its first aircraft carrier in 2012 and is still on a curve. steep learning curve when it comes to making optimal use of it. .
Another important consideration is that the Chinese military has not been directly involved in a major war since the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, so it lacks the real-time combat experience acquired by the United States. United and its allies in combat theaters from Afghanistan to the Falklands.
So even if the Chinese continue to make belligerent gestures in response to Ms Pelosis’s arrival in Taipei this week, their ability to launch a direct assault on Taiwan is limited, as the Taiwanese themselves would be the first to concede. .
From Taiwan’s perspective, the most likely threat to its survival will come in the form of political instability similar to the domestic unrest that precipitated the demise of democratic rule in Hong Kong. For this reason, many Taiwanese are more concerned about China’s ongoing efforts to overthrow their democracy by backing pro-Beijing political activists and cyberattacks than the possibility of a full-scale Chinese invasion.
The limits of Chinese military might are certainly a consideration Western policymakers should take into account when weighing how best to handle the more confrontational stance Beijing has adopted under President Xi Jinping.
With China’s economy facing the very real prospect of stagnation and major cities regularly subject to Covid-inspired shutdowns, Mr. Xi has more than enough to handle without causing a global crisis over Taiwan. Another view is that Xi is deliberately seeking to distract from his country’s economic woes ahead of the Nov. 20 National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Either way, Beijing is acting from a position of weakness, not strength, in its threatening behavior towards Taiwan, which is why US President Joe Biden was wrong to question the wisdom of Ms Pelosis’ visit. earlier this week. Any suggestion that the West is not fully committed to Taiwan independence will simply encourage Beijing to engage in further acts of intimidation.
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