China Looks to Consolidate In Every Direction, Taiwan in the Gun Sights?

Bloomberg Businessweek August 3, 2020 pp9-10 Remarks “After cracking down on Hong Kong Beijing turns its attention to the island across the strait”. By Iain Marlow and Cindy Wang

Taipei, Taiwan (

At-the-end-of-the-day some like Tung Li-wen, a consultant for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, believes …”China’s ambition is not only Taiwan. It’s all of Asia-and the whole world.” In contrast, the U.S. wishes for democracy everywhere.

Since Mao Zedong ran the The Nationalist out of the mainland to Taiwan in 1949, the “Communist Party leaders have bolstered their legitimacy to rule by taming rebellious corners of China’s vast periphery.” Their aim to regain lost territory and reunite China comes shrouded in various euphemisms. With respect to Taiwan, Beijing claims to be “the biggest defender of the status quo, and the Chinese government has not given up the goal of peaceful reunification.” The Chinese “idea of status quo doesn’t seem all that stable in the eyes of Taiwanese officials” as evidenced by the Chinese clamping down on Hong Kong and “the deadliest border clash in decades” at the same time with India and previous actions resettling the Ulghur area and incarcerating many of the Muslim population. America and other allies view “China’s rise as a threat to the free world.”

Beijing, China (

After China's imposing the new Hong Kong security law, Taiwan has become the buffer and an alternative from China for international business. It is also replacing Hong Kong in “becoming a destination for pro-democracy protestors” from the mainland. China’s action in Hong Kong has only increased support for Taiwan’s Democracy led by President Tsai Ing-wen “who easily won reelection in January…[even getting support from] “the main China-friendly opposition party and the rump organization of the Nationalists who fled Mao…”. After imposing the Hong Kong security law, China “tried to force senior Taiwanese officials at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office to sign a ‘One China’ pledge that recognizes Beijing’s sovereignty over the island. The officials refused and returned to Taiwan…”

As China continues aggressive behavior in the South China Sea many worry about a potential attack on Taiwan from the mainland. Taiwan carefully monitors “Xi’s statements closely, so as not to be caught unprepared if he takes any action to distract from a slowing economy in China. They also expect Beijing to further isolate Taiwan from its remaining diplomatic allies, blocking it officials from joining global bodies, stepping up cyberattacks and spying operations, and continuing military drills near the island in the air and at sea.”

Having said that “an invasion remains unlikely” as it would be costly and dangerous for China and beyond. Although the mainland outnumbers Taiwan 1.4B to 23M, experts feel Taiwan could successfully repeal an invasion based on their military readiness. While American ended its “mutual defense treaty with Taiwan” in exchange for Chinese diplomatic ties (Nixon 1979) “it has been replaced with legislation authorizing the sale of weapons for Taiwan to ‘maintain a sufficient self-defense capability’..” Of course, China would also “…have its hands full just dealing with Taiwan’s defenders…” While stopping short of saying it [U.S.] would join a conflict “the United States would only need to tip the scales of the battle to foil a Chinese invasion.”