Is Biden Weakness on Ukraine Emboldening Communist China on Taiwan?

President Joe Biden / Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America

President Biden’s perceived ongoing weakness against authoritarian Russia’s threat to invade democratic Ukraine, following his disastrous retreat from Afghanistan, may be encouraging, and likely emboldening Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping in his goal of conquering democratic Taiwan.

Some analysts believe that Xi has already signaled support for a Russian invasion of Ukraine by asking Putin to postpone it until after the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, though Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson ZHAO LIJIAN dismissed that allegation as a “despicable trick.”

Nevertheless, “China will be watching what kind of blow is dealt to the Russian army and to the Russian economy should this invasion move forward,” Sen. CHRIS MURPHY (D-Conn.) said in a video briefing Wednesday.

“There’s no doubt that the Chinese have designs to reclaim Taiwan and the playbook that the world will witness over the course of the next several months will be very instructive to the Chinese.”

As Politico notes:

The Chinese government sees parallels to Russia’s designs on Ukraine in China’s claims on Taiwan. For the ruling Chinese Communist Party, Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine and its international response is an invaluable real-time lesson on the cost-benefit of possible future military action to “reclaim” Taiwan.

“Where Putin and Xi’s interests converge is in discrediting American security guarantees and undermining faith in the resolve and capabilities of the United States. China’s ability to bully its neighbors grows in proportion to their doubts about whether America will ride to their rescue,” DANNY RUSSEL, assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under President BARACK OBAMA, told China Watcher in a statement. “If Putin should invade and refuse to withdraw from Ukraine, the failure of the U.S. to deter him followed by the failure to expel him would vastly strengthen Beijing’s campaign to convince people on Taiwan (and elsewhere in Asia) that ‘resistance is futile’ because the U.S. security pledges are no longer credible.”

The Biden administration is already concerned about China’s aggressive posture in the Taiwan Strait. Defense Secretary LLOYD AUSTIN noted an ominous pattern of intensifying incursions of Chinese military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone. Taiwan recorded 39 such flights on Sunday alone, the highest number since October. “It looks a lot like them exploring their true capabilities and sure it looks a lot like rehearsals,” Austin said in a speech last month to the Reagan National Defense Forum.

What’s worse is the possibility of coordinated military actions on two fronts between China and Russia.

Politico adds:

Perhaps inspired by last week’s joint exercises by Chinese, Russian and Iranian naval units, U.K. Foreign Secretary LIZ TRUSS speculated Saturday that Russia and China may create a simultaneous two-prong military crisis in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

“I don’t think we can rule that out [because] Russia is working more closely with China than it ever has,” Truss said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Russia’s ambassador to China, ANDREY DENISOV, confirmed Tuesday that Russia was briefing China on its security talks with the U.S. and that “our Chinese friends are paying close attention.”

…In a response to a reporter’s question last month about a “nightmare scenario” in which Russian invades Ukraine and China attacks Taiwan simultaneously, national security adviser JAKE SULLIVAN replied that “the United States is going to take every action that we can take, from the point of view of both deterrence and diplomacy, to make sure that the Taiwan scenario you just described never happens.” ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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