Chinese academics have reportedly been instructed to evaluate the possibility of unifying with Taiwan by force, as the war in Ukraine has caused Beijing to bring the Taiwan question to the fore of its agenda, a national security official said on Sunday.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is moving ahead on its “overall strategy for resolving the Taiwan issue in the new era,” which centers on peaceful methods such as legal or other action, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
However, it is also studying the possibility of using force, including lessons to be learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the potential effects of sanctions, they said.
The CCP is likely to use violent and nonviolent methods in pursuit of the least costly resolution, the official said.
If Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) chooses to imitate Russia and pursue a military solution, it would first try to create the most beneficial environment possible, they said.
That might entail elaborating on its “one China” principle, urging countries not to interfere, sowing discord among Taiwanese, guarding against potential sanctions and forming a plan for reconstruction after invasion, they added.
Photo courtesy of the Changhua County Government via CNA
There are three main ways the conflict in Ukraine could play out, each with a different effect on Taiwan, the official said.
In the first scenario, Russia wins the war and Russian President Vladimir Putin gets everything he wants, including the surrender of Kyiv and its vow not to join NATO, they said, adding that only under this scenario would Putin end the war.
This scenario, in which military action by an authoritarian state proves successful, would be the worst for Taiwan, as it would embolden Xi to launch his own conflict, the official said.
In the second scenario, the war continues for longer than two months, dragging Russia further toward economic collapse, although Putin would be unable to retreat for fear of the political repercussions, the official said.
Meanwhile, the refugee crisis in Europe and inflation in the US would worsen, potentially affecting the US midterm elections, they said.
Facing mounting challenges, these nations would request assistance from China, thereby enabling Beijing to exert greater influence internationally and pressure Western nations into accepting its interpretation of the “one China” principle and other concessions, the official said.
The last scenario would involve a successful resistance from Ukraine with international support that would force Putin from power, the official said.
This would be encouraging for Taiwan, which could learn from Ukraine how to defend itself and show China the potential consequences of starting a military conflict, they said.
However, each of these scenarios is variable, the official said.
Beijing could decide that peaceful unification is impossible and decide to attack before Taiwan completes its defense preparations, they said, adding that there is always the chance a dictator could externalize domestic problems.
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