Vladimir Putin calculated that the presence of Joe Biden in the White House provided him with the historic opportunity to fundamentally alter the balance of power and crush Ukraine. Time will tell whether or not he is able to pull that off; the Ukrainians clearly have their own ideas about how this will turn out. Meanwhile, though, thousands of miles away signs are emerging that Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party may be getting ready to make their move on Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist government announced military exercises in the South China Sea from Sunday through Tuesday of this coming week. The details of those exercises remain unclear, but the possibility that these “exercises” will turn out to be a run-up to something bigger remains.
The rhetoric coming from Beijing seems increasingly heated. A Chinese military spokesperson on Thursday said the United States had become a 'troublemaker' and 'accident-maker' in the South China Sea. According to Tan Kefai, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, the United States is guilty of aggravating tensions over Taiwan by continuing to send military ships and aircraft into the South China Sea.
"Free navigation and overflight have never been a problem in the South China Sea," said Tan.
"We all know that since last year, the U.S. military has caused a submarine collision and an air crash in the South China Sea," added Tan. Tan urged the United States to immediately end all operations in the South China Sea, which he said should be a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation. That translates into a demand that the United States agree to China’s legally indefensible position that it owns the entire South China Sea, one of the world’s most strategic waterways.
Two weeks ago, the Chinese state-run Global Times reported "China firmly opposes and severely condemns US' latest $100 million arms sale to the island of Taiwan. China will take proper, powerful measures to safeguard its own sovereignty and security interests: FM." China continues to regard Taiwan as a breakaway province and makes no secret of its intent to regain control of the island.
Meanwhile, China continues to send large numbers of aircraft almost daily into the Air Defense Identification Zone around Taiwan. Just yesterday eight Chinese aircraft, four J-11 fighter jets, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, and two J-16 fighter jets, were sent toward Taiwan. In response, the Taiwanese scrambled Civil Air Patrol aircraft, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems to track and monitor the activities of the Chinese military aircraft.
Earlier this month China and Russia issued a joint statement announcing a new era of cooperation between the two nations. The specific mention of Taiwan is difficult to miss.
“The sides reaffirm their strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests, state sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and oppose interference by external forces in their internal affairs.
The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.”
In January Qin Gang the Chinese ambassador to the United States was explicit not only about China’s intentions toward Taiwan but its willingness to go to war with the United States over the island.
Qin stated during an interview with NPR that the U.S. might face 'military conflict' with China regarding the future of Taiwan. Per Qin, "If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict."
Just in case, that threat is not clear enough, in December of last year China warned that it would attack U.S. troops if they attempted to come to Taiwan's aid when the "reunification force" invades. Responding to a statement by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that the U.S. would "take every action" to ensure that a scenario in which Russia and China simultaneously invade Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, "never happens," China's state-owned Global Times opined that Sullivan's "boast" was not credible because the U.S. "simply cannot build a deterrent to prevent" China from "carrying out reunification by force." That article went on to say, "It is credible that the PLA will heavily attack U.S. troops who come to Taiwan's rescue."
In short, not only do the Chinese intend to take back Taiwan, they do not believe there is anything the United States can or will do about it. They have taken the measure of the man in the White House, and they are not impressed.
In November 2020 a powerful combination of interests in the United States installed a corrupt, senile empty suit of a President in office. We are paying the price. Afghanistan is lost and transformed into a terrorist superstate. Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. Ukraine is in flames.
Meanwhile, in the South China Sea, Xi is warming up his forces, eyeing Taiwan, and thinking about making his move.