CIA Director William Burns on Saturday said that China is closely monitoring Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and that it is affecting Chinese leaders’ calculations over Taiwan.
Burns, speaking at a Financial Times event in Washington, said the Chinese government had been struck by Ukraine’s fierce resistance to Russia’s invasion and by the economic costs Russia is bearing.
“I think the Chinese leadership is looking very carefully at all this — at the costs and consequences of any effort to use force to gain control over Taiwan,” Burns said.
However, he cautioned that it would not shift Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) long-term goals over Taiwan.
“I don’t for a minute think that this has eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan,” Burns said. “But I think it’s something that’s affecting their calculation about how and when they go about doing that.”
China has refused to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and has criticized Western sanctions on Moscow.
Beijing and Moscow declared a “no limits” strategic partnership several weeks before the Feb. 24 invasion, and have been forging closer energy and security ties in recent years to push back on the US and the West.
However, Burns said the US believed China was unsettled by the reputational damage of being associated with the “brutishness” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military action.
“I think what the bitter experience, in many ways, of Putin’s Russia in Ukraine over the last 10 or 11 weeks has done is demonstrate that that friendship actually does have some limits,” Burns said.
Separately, US Representative Mark Green on Thursday said China would face an even more united response than Russia is facing now if Beijing were to invade Taiwan.
Green made the remarks during an appearance at the NewsNation show On Balance with Leland Vittert, when Vittert asked: “Can the world come together against China if they invade Taiwan?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Green said, adding: “While you’re sort of looking at the difference between China and Russia, I’d suggest you look at the difference economically between Taiwan and Ukraine.”
“Taiwan makes 94 percent of all the high-end semiconductors. The West cannot tolerate China seizing control of Taiwan,” he said.
“So absolutely we are going to push back. Everyone is going to unite and probably even more so than with Ukraine,” he added.
Green said the US could and should do more to help Taiwan defend itself.
“What we’ve got to do is make the consequence of China attacking Taiwan so great that they choose not to do so. That’s real deterrence,” he said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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