The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Tuesday in its annual report made recommendations on actions to prepare for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Those recommendations, which were outlined in the report to the US Congress, include the establishment of an interagency committee that would develop plans and feasibility assessments for economically sanctioning China following a hypothetical invasion attempt, the Central News Agency reported. The commission recommended that Congress instruct the Pentagon on how to bolster the US’ capacity to resist Chinese forces in such an event, and provide additional funds to improve US-Taiwan defense interoperability.
Such preparations are prudent, given that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and his government are unwilling to engage in normal diplomacy.
US President Joe Biden met with Xi at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday, but while Biden left the meeting confident he had conveyed that the US did not seek a new Cold War with China, from Xi’s perspective, the meeting was nothing more than a chance to spout tired warnings about US interference in its plans for “unification” with Taiwan, which it sees as its “internal affair.”
Reuters reported that Biden spoke to Xi about China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan,” and he sought to assure Xi that the US’ policy on Taiwan had not changed, but Xi’s statement to Chinese media following the meeting clearly shows that Xi is not easing up on the aggressive rhetoric.
“The Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” Reuters cited him as saying to China’s Xinhua news agency.
Whether Xi would attempt a military invasion of Taiwan remains to be seen, but it is certain that China would continue its aggression toward Taiwan in other ways, including cyber and cognitive warfare, economic pressure, military and drone incursions near Taiwan, and diplomatic pressure on other countries to have Taiwan excluded from international bodies and events. The possibility of a Chinese blockade, or an invasion attempt, cannot be ruled out. Preparatory measures such as those suggested by the commission are therefore imperative.
That Xi is incapable of normal diplomacy was made evident in an exchange he had with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit. In the exchange, Xi is seen lambasting Trudeau for allegedly leaking details of a conversation between the two to the Canadian press. The BBC reported the exchange on Wednesday, speculating that Xi was referring to recently revealed warnings by Canadian intelligence officials to Trudeau over Chinese interference in Canadian politics.
Xi is quoted as saying through a translator to Trudeau that “everything we discussed has been leaked to the papers and that is not appropriate,” to which Trudeau replied: “In Canada we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have.”
Xi and his government are incapable of understanding that in democracies there is freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there is a separation of powers, and there is a limit on what democratic leaders are capable of. Even if Trudeau wanted to silence the press, he would be incapable of doing so, and that is something the Chinese Communist Party cannot fathom.
Leaders should not expect dialogue with Xi to have any impact on the authoritarian leader’s disregard for the global order or his ceaseless threats toward Taiwan and other sovereign democracies. Taiwan should continue to work closely with the US on its defense, and seek to assist the commission with its preparations to the best possible extent.
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