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How Likely Is a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan?

by Anthony Buckley

After Russia decided to invade Ukraine, one of the first questions that came to many people’s minds was what that might mean for Taiwan. The reaction from the West was, apart from sanctions, decidedly muted. No one wanted to risk war with a nuclear-armed Russia, so while the war of words raged, no Western military sent troops to defend Ukraine.

The initial thought was that this might embolden China. After all, if China could enter Taiwan without the risk of the US or other countries interfering, it would certainly embolden the Chinese regime. But after seeing what has happened to Russian troops in Ukraine, the Chinese government may have come to the realization that an invasion of Taiwan might end up being not worth the effort.

On the one hand, the sanctions placed on Russia have crippled much of daily life. All of a sudden ATMs and third-party payment systems stopped working. Things that Russians took for granted all of a sudden just aren’t there, making life far more difficult. But that has also informed the Chinese government of just what to expect, and how they can prepare their systems against these types of sanctions in the future.

What is far more concerning to the Chinese, however, is what is occurring in Ukraine to Russian troops. The military action in Ukraine appears to have bogged down, with gains being hard to come by. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that Ukrainians and Russians look the same, speak the same languages, and use the same types of military equipment. Thus identifying friend from foe is difficult, and can lead to friendly fire, civilian casualties, or combat deaths at the hands of civilian partisans.

China would face similar difficulties in Taiwan, as well as difficulty taking urban centers, just as the Russians have. That has perhaps given the Chinese regime some pause. In fact, as the conflict in Ukraine has progressed, the rhetoric from Beijing has toned down, and it appears China is doing its best to remain out of the fray.

So as bad as Biden has been for his shenanigans in Ukraine, his weakness and ineptness hasn’t emboldened China. But that’s not because of anything he’s done, merely the Chinese drawing their own lessons from Russia’s experience. We’re just lucky so far that Biden’s incompetence hasn’t gotten us into more trouble.

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