N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Taiwan is a democratic island that has been autonomous for years and which, according to China, ‘must return to the motherland’. Will China learn form Russia and invade Taiwan by force as well?
The situation in Taiwan is not that of Ukraine. Russia is a state that has little except oil and gas. If President Putin wanted to achieve anything, time is against him. The opposite is true for China, its economic dominance is obvious and growing. ‘Why occupy Taiwan with chaos and violence when we can win it through patience’, is probably the line of thought in Beijing. Also, Taiwan has a monopoly on the production of computer chips. If an invasion does not go as planned, the whole world, including China, will go into an economic shock.
But if the US commits to Taiwan’s independence (which it has only half-heartedly done so far), a conflict seems inevitable. Timing depends on the pace at which Chinese military can modernise its navy, which some say is necessary for such a complex operation as an invasion of Taiwan. Others say China wants to wait for the result of Taiwan’s 2024 presidential elections. Whatever, Beijing is now telling that ‘Ukraine-Taiwan comparisons are unwise’.
Chinese diplomacy is based on ideas such as ‘wait and see, remain pragmatic and adapt to the situation’. The Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu wrote centuries ago: ‘Give your enemy a golden bridge to retreat over’. The US, as the world’s policeman, has never had that attitude. They chose for side-lining humiliated opponents and proclaimed their policy based on absolute principles. But in the meantime they are guided by self-interest.