China president ‘backed into a corner’ over Taiwan as world turns back on Putin

China’s President Xi Jinping and the country’s leadership are likely looking at the course of the war in Ukraine while considering their next actions when it comes to Taiwan, according to an expert. Dr Marcin Kaczmarski, lecturer in security studies at the University of Glasgow, doesn’t believe Beijing will stop claiming the democratic self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its own territory anytime soon.

But the unexpected length of the grinding war in Ukraine, the resilience of Ukrainians and the strengthening of the Western alliance following the Russian invasion are issues that China’s ruling Communist leadership is likely noticing when it comes to what Beijing may face if it followed in Moscow’s footsteps and attacked Taiwan.

Asked whether he believes China could take advantage of the attention of the West being focused on Ukraine and move against Taiwain, Dr Kaczmarski told “Not in a sense of a direct military action.

“I think there is a fierce debate within China with what are the lessons from Ukraine when it comes to the Chinese policy towards Taiwan.

“And one of the lessons may be how difficult the war is. Another point is the unity of the West, which also sent some signals about Taiwan.”

However, China will want to demonstrate to the West that it’s “not backing down” on its claim over Taiwan, the expert said.

He explained: “But at the same time, I would expect China to perform military pressure or political pressure under the threshold of an open conflict.

“So exercising, for instance, the blockade of Taiwan or testing Taiwan’s defences or increasing the number of encroachment over the Taiwanese airspace.

“I think these are things China is going to increase rather than decrease.”

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On Sunday, China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu spoke about Taiwan as he attended a defence security summit hosted in Singapore, the Shangri-La Dialogue.

While the minister said Beijing is open to a dialogue with the US military to discuss their deteriorating relationship, Mr Li warned against “NATO-like” alliances in the Pacific area, describing similar groups as a “way of kidnapping regional countries and exaggerating conflicts and confrontations” with the potential to plunge the Asia-Pacific into disputes and conflicts.

China, he also said, “will not tolerate attempts by Taiwan independence forces, external forces to separate from China”.

One day prior to these remarks, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin criticised China for declining an official invitation for a meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the summit.

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Signs of even more tensions between Washington and Beijing emerged on Monday (June 5), as the US military released a video of what it described as an “unsafe” Chinese manoeuvre carried out on the weekend in the Taiwan Strait.

On Saturday, as American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal were conducting a so-called “freedom of navigation” transit of the strait between Taiwan and mainland China when a Chinese guided-missile destroyer cut across the course of the US ship before straightening out to start sailing in a parallel direction.

The US Indo-Pacific command accused China of violating maritime rules of safe passage in international water.

While ships flying the US flag and Washington allies often sail through the strait to stress the waters are international, China claims the area is part of its exclusive economic zone.

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