China’s recent belligerence against Taiwan may be a bluff and bargain for another conflict it wants to win.
The belligerence of the China towards Taiwan has been making news recently. China has been sending scores of threatening air sorties into Taiwanese air space in the last few months and experts have been increasingly mulling about China taking Taiwan by force. Military analysts now wonder if the US would intervene, or let China cement its Asiatic hegemony with a forceful annexation of Taiwan.
My opinion is that China will never take Taiwan by force. At least for now a war with Taiwan is too risky with a nationalistic Tsai Ing-wen govt in power there. The US, Japan, Australia and other Pacific powers need not even come to the aid of Taiwan. It’s forces are well equipped to certainly put up a fight for a couple of days. During that time, China’s eastern seaboard with all its dazzling cities will become targets if Taiwan fires a barrage of advanced US missiles it has.
China can easily crush Taiwan, but the costs would be too high for it. The Chinese are a self preserving culture and would not want to waste away their progress and prosperity and also that of Taiwan over such a war. Global sanctions that would follow will cripple China economically. The only small possibility that I can think of is China taking over small islands of Taiwan near its coast. That will help it send a nice message across the straits and the Pacific.
So why is China being so aggressive against Taiwan and showing intent of invasion? Well, it is my judgment that the Chinese Communist Party wants to buy indifference of the west to some other military and political goal it wants to achieve. And it is using its aggression against Taiwan as a bargaining chip for that. The aim of the CCP seems to be a short conflict with India, where it can by surprise grab some territory, to declare a victory and supremacy against its Asian rival.
Xi Jinping has just extended his tenure for another term and the Chinese economy seems to be heading towards stagflation. The economic prosperity that the CCP has sold so far to its citizens to buy their support is now scarce to sell. Home prices are too high, economic growth is going down, industries are closing, and foreign investment is slowing. And Xi has to prove his worth. What better way for the communist regime than to prove it in a struggle against a foreign “aggressor” teaching them a lesson?
By increasing its aggression against Taiwan, it is making the west and western elites jittery. The possibility of a cross straits war where the US can get involved is worrying politicians, capitalists, industrialists, and big businesses. The US administration in particular seems anxious. In case China tries to take over Taiwan by force, what should it do? And in case if it does nothing, or cannot prevent China from annexing Taiwan, it will be an enormous blow to many. The Biden administration, the future of democrats, US hegemony, and the fortunes of many elites to name a few.
In exchange for peace with Taiwan, China can reach out to the west and lobby their politicians, elites, the UN, and others to turn a blind eye towards any conflict it has with India. In fact, it will bargain with them to join it in blaming India for the conflict and putting pressure on India to end the conflict without escalating it. An escalation it doesn’t want and fears, with a nationalistic BJP govt in India which is ready for a full scale war.
China’s aim is to start and finish a small conflict with India that helps it grab a bit of territory, cause some causalities, and declare victory. By doing so, the CCP and Xi would gain enormous support and legitimacy inside China for defeating and teaching foreign “aggressors” a lesson. Nationalism will rise and help the party during the economic misery that is coming to its people.
A declared military victory over India, drummed up by CCP’s international media propaganda, will also help it in beating the BJP — By handing a defeat to the Modi govt in the 2024 general elections by manipulating public perception inside India. This is a nationalistic govt in India the CCP hates. Under Modi, India has not only stood up to Chinese bullying, but has caused the CCP, PLA, and China reputational damage. India is also, to China’s concern, fast catching up to it economically and militarily under the Modi govt.
China would also be able to show the world, using the conflict and its declared victory, who’s the preeminent power in Asia. Thereby clearing all doubts which have cropped up because of PLA’s failures and forty-five causalities during its misadventure against India last year. This is, I believe, the game plan of China and that’s why India needs to be careful and ready for what’s coming in the next one year.